Homework Help

What personality traits (e.g. superficial, materialistic) describe Daisy Buchanan in...

user profile pic

ashypoops | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 27, 2010 at 4:01 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What personality traits (e.g. superficial, materialistic) describe Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 27, 2010 at 4:48 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

Concerning your question about Daisy in The Great Gatsby, you might want to consider a less judgmental view of Daisy.  Try this quote:

I woke up out of the ether [after delivering a baby] with an utterly abandoned feeling and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl.  She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept.  'All right,' I said, 'I'm glad it's a girl.  And I hope she'll be a fool--that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'

You could just as easily use "trapped" instead of manipulative or materialistic. Daisy is trapped in a patriarchal society dominated by men, as women in Europe and then America have been for centuries. Women could not even vote for most of Daisy's life. The way to improve one's situation for a woman was to marry a wealthy man...At least in Daisy's time.

Though Nick dismisses Daisy's above comments, Nick can be unreliable. Also, he is male, his understanding of Daisy's situation is minimal. Finally, he accepts Daisy's dismissal of the comments, assuming she is just playacting, pretending sophistication. But she could just as easily be embarrassed by her remarks and by her show of feeling, and be dismissing them for that reason.

user profile pic

lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 27, 2010 at 4:47 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 2 like

There are some quotes you can use to show Daisy's personality in chapter 5 of the novel. This is the chapter where Nick invites Daisy to tea, at Gatsby's request, and it describes their very awkward meeting.

As you mentioned, one of Daisy's traits is "undecided" and "superficial". You can use two quotes to back this up from this chapter. When Nick invites her to tea, he tells her not to bring her husband, Tom. She replies:

I called up Daisy from the office next morning, and invited her to come to tea.

“Don’t bring Tom,” I warned her.

“What?”

“Don’t bring Tom.”

“Who is ‘Tom’?” she asked innocently.

Later, when she arrives at Nick's house for tea, she flirtatiously asks Nick:

“Is this absolutely where you live, my dearest one?”

And then:

“Are you in love with me,” she said low in my ear, “or why did I have to come alone?”

She shows her superficiality when she remarks, after seeing Gatsby's house from Nick's yard:

“That huge place THERE?” she cried pointing.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it, but I don’t see how you live there all alone.”

“I keep it always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people.”

When Daisy sees Gatsby's shirts (he needs to change into a new shirt), she remarks:

“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.”

Her entire conversations with both Nick and Gatsby in this chapter are totally vacuous, lacking any depth or concern for either Nick or Gatsby. It's all about her.

“I adore it,” exclaimed Daisy. “The pompadour! You never told me you had a pompadour—or a yacht.”

The only parts of the conversations that are not about her are about things, possessions, riches.

Read more about Daisy here on eNotes.

user profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 27, 2010 at 4:54 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 2 like

Whenever one analyzes a character, he/she should not overlook the significance of that character's name.  And, interestingly, F. Scott Fitzgerald employs flowers for the names of some of his ladies' names in his novel, The Great GatsbyDaisy suggests that the character appears pure and wholesome--the white petals--but her core of yellow/gold suggests the essence of her life contains the importance of wealth and position.  Thus, her idealistic appearance is false; her personality superficial as one of the "golden girls" of Fitzgerald's writings.  Daisy exists in a dream world with Tom Buchanan; her voice, Nick states, is

full of money--that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jungle of it, the cymbals' song of it.....High in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl.

Another allusion to Daisy's voice occurs in Chapter 5 in which Nick comments that it captivates Gatsby because of it

fluctuating, feverish warmth because it couldn't be over-dreamed--that voice was a deathless song.

Daisy's conversations with others are not only superficial, they are senseless.  At Gatsby's when he indicates a "human orchid of a woman," Daisy comments that she is "lovely," then she remarks that she has never met so many celebrities and she especially likes the man "with the sort of blue nose."  When Tom asks if she minds his eating with some people, Daisy "genially" replies, "Go ahead...if you want to take down any addresses here's my little gold pencil..."

Later on in the party, Nick comments that Daisy liked another who was "lovely," but "the rest offended her." In Chapter 7 Daisy kisses Gatsby with her husband witnessing the act.  When Jordan chides her as a "low, vulgar girl," Daisy replies, "I don't care!"  This uncaring attitude is certainly underscored when Daisy knowingly allows Gatsby to be suspected of the murder of Mrytle.

In the scene in Chapter 7 in which the young daughter enters the room, surprising Gatsby since Daisy has not even mentioned her, Daisy talks to her daughter in an affected manner:

'The Bes-sed pre-cious!  Did mother get powder on your old yellowy hair?  Stand up now and say How-de-do.'

'I go dressed before luncheon,' said the child, turning eagerly to Daisy.

'That's because your mother wanted to show you off.'....'You dream, you.  You absolute little dream.'

The dreamlike, illusive quality of Daisy is what is prevalent in her personality.  Perhaps, as the previous poster has suggested, Daisy chooses to exist in an illusion, a dream, a superficial world, figuratively drugging herself to keep from feeling the disappointment of a meaningless life.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes