In Chapter 7, what is the significance of Daisy's question about what they will do with the rest of their lives?
Daisy leads such a decadent, empty existence that her life is in the perennial grip of ennui. She lacks either the intelligence or the imagination to invest her life with any degree of meaning or significance. Life for her is just an endless round of social gatherings and the acquisition of expensive material goods.
The relevant quotation in full is:
"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon?" cried Daisy, "and the day after that, and the next thirty years?"
For Daisy, time is utterly meaningless. There's no real difference between this afternoon, the day after tomorrow, or thirty years from now. It's all the same to her. She looks at time, of whatever duration, as just a big gap to be filled. But when she can't think of anything with which to fill it, she immediately starts to get bored.
The life of Daisy Buchanan unfolds in a deadening, linear fashion, just a very long, very boring string of clock time divided into interminable minutes, hours, days, weeks and years. Her life has no meaning because she doesn't really understand death in the existential sense. For Daisy, death means the same as one's physical demise, the termination of a long and tedious earthly existence. What she doesn't see is that it's only a heightened awareness of one's own mortality, as part of the finitude of human existence itself, that gives life any shape, meaning or structure it may have.
But Daisy unconsciously runs away from an adequate comprehension of her own mortality, choosing instead to live for the morrow and throw herself headlong into a shallow, superficial existence in which the ultimate question of her own death is not even addressed, let alone simply postponed until the last few hours on earth.
This question of Daisy’s reflects back to her question in Chapter One. “What’ll we plan?” she asks; “What do people plan”? Living in the present, vacuous to a fault, she has no ideas as to how to fill up her time. While in general a condition of modern life is that it goes much too fast to understand, for Daisy it goes much too slow because she is unable to perceive its movement. Significantly, immediately before Daisy makes this comment in Chapter Seven, as he stands on Daisy’s veranda with Tom and Gatsby and looks onto the “green Sound, stagnant in the heat,” Nick sees “one small sail crawl[ing] toward the fresher sea” (124). This boat provides a direct contrast to Daisy for it seems to have more direction in life than she, for she is without any goals whatsoever.
Daisy is so flippant about planning for the future that she shows her desire for only immediate gratification. Her greatest concern is always for only that moment. All things she wishes for have value; all things she owns and tires of will be discarded. This just may include the love of Jay Gatsby. We see she is the picture of the neglectful mother. She has a life that requires no planning, no forethought and no need to attribute value in her life. This should be a foreshadowing clue for Gatsby. He may be too smitten to catch it.