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What is the significance of Gatsby's shirts in The Great Gatsby?

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stefanieee | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 8, 2010 at 5:55 AM via web

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What is the significance of Gatsby's shirts in The Great Gatsby?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 8, 2010 at 6:05 AM (Answer #1)

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In my opinion, Gatsby's shirts are significant because they show just how far Gatsby is willing to go to get Daisy.  In addition, her reaction to them, in my opinion, shows how shallow she is.

The whole house and the shirts and everything are Gatsby's attempt to get Daisy to love him.  He wants to show her just how rich and classy he is.  He is so classy that he even has his shirts sent over from England (and lots of them).

When Daisy sees them, she breaks down and cries.  If she were a more genuine person, you would think she would be overcome by emotion on seeing Gatsby or on hearing him say something.  But instead, what gets her is his material possessions.

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droark | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 8, 2010 at 6:50 AM (Answer #2)

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I agree that the shirts are signs of Gatsby's wealth. Just as the wealthy people leaving the party earlier in the story didn't care that they had wrecked their cars, Gatsby uses the flippant gesture of throwing his shirts to show just how much disposable wealth he has.

We also need to consider what exactly shirts meant in the Fitzgerald era. Shirts were not two for $10's at the local super-mart and average people didn't own fifteen pairs of shoes. The statement he is making is the same as the act of throwing twenty dollar bills out the window of a car.

 

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jdellabadia | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM (Answer #3)

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Gatsby's shirts show that materialism brings Gatsby's enjoyment. By Daisy's crying, we can tell that Gatsby's shirts are extensively luxurious and that he must expend much time and money in choosing his clothing.

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