Why Does Gatsby View Daisy’s Child With Surprise
In Chapter 7, why does Gatsby view Daisy's child with surprise?
In all these years since Daisy and Gatsby (then James Gatz) broke up, Gatsby has been romanticizing her. He does not think of her as a human being, with individual faults and virtues, but as an "ideal woman." He does not know her at all, and overlooks all her terrible and petty personality traits. He has put her up on a pedestal. However, Gatsby's romanticized version of this beautiful and wealthy young woman is at odds with the reality of who Daisy Buchanan has become. She is shallow, superficial, selfish, and even socially cruel.
She has a husband and child, a three year old daughter named Pammy. The reality is that Daisy is a very negligent parent who sees her child as an accessory or else simply ignores her because it is convenient for her. In Chapter 7, Daisy uses Pammy like an interesting accessory. She brings her out to show her off to her party guests with superficial intentions. She does not truly care about Pammy or even think about her very much. The most profound thing she says about her is:
"I hope she'll be a fool," she says, "that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool."
Daisy knows the reality of women's roles in her society. She knows her daughter will one day be just as objectified as she is herself. She believes that the best thing for Pammy is to be objectified.
Daisy and Gatsby would find it more convenient for their fantasy world if Pammy did not exist. Gatsby's reaction to the daughter is predictable. He objectifies Daisy throughout the entire novel. To him, she is a prize that he needs to win. Although he himself believes that he truly loves her with a deep and emotional passion, he never even attempts to see her as a human individual. Indeed, he is only in love with the idea of Daisy, rather than Daisy herself.
Gatsby is surprised because he does not view a woman as a full human being, which would mean encompassing her sexual as well as her maternal aspects. He sees Daisy as an ideal in terms of her sexuality which he links with money: the American Dream is symbolized both in money and a beautiful woman. However, in addition to that, accepting Daisy as a mother would mean to accept the fact that she slept with Tom and possibly loved him, too, and that she would have a separate love for her child as well. Gatsby is not prepared to share Daisy with anyone.
Gatsby is surprised because he has known Daisy for a long time, but never knew that she had a child.
Gatsby is surprised that Daisy has a daughter because he thinks that Daisy never really loved Tom.
Gatsby is bound and determined to forget the past five years, and he is insistent that Daisy forget them as well. The child is living, breathing proof that not only did the past five years exist, but during them Daisy was married to, and possibly even loved, Tom Buchanan. This fact is something Gatsby is neither ready nor able to accept, and as a result he is shocked to behold the child.