Is Daisy a good mother?
Though F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925) doesn't explain much about Daisy's relationship with her daughter Pammy, Daisy's hopes for her daughter reveal much about her status as a mother. In the novel's first chapter, Daisy tells Nick about the birth of her daughter: "I woke up out of the ether 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" (20). This "utterly abandoned feeling" suggests that Daisy has always felt disconnected from her child; she felt lonely and dejected at her child's birth instead of elated and protective. She also becomes distraught when she learns that her child is a girl. This action suggests that Daisy wanted to have a son.
Her next line explains her disdain towards having a daughter. She says, "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" (20). Here, Daisy establishes her understanding that all women can hope for in early 20th century American society is to be a "beautiful little fool," or someone like Daisy herself who uses her appearance to marry for money. Why must her daughter be a fool, though? Daisy's awareness of her husband Tom Buchannan's affair with Myrtle explains this: if Daisy was instead unaware of this affair, and other unappealing aspects of Tom's character, perhaps she could be happy in her relationship with him. Daisy is therefore a poor mother, for she fails to show compassion for her own child and, since her child is a girl, doesn't have hope for the child's future.
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Although Daisy apparently loves her daughter, she has little contact with her. When Pammy was born, Daisy tells Nick that she said, "I hope she'll be a fool...a beautiful little fool," which is the role that Daisy strives to play to survive in her world. She turns Pammy over to a nanny, it seems, who is responsible for her care and raising. Pammy is brought out twice, I believe, to meet people, Gatsby for instance, but for the most part she is not a part of Daisy's life. Daisy is not, therefore, a good mother because she simply shows off her daughter instead of loving and caring for her.
Perhaps some of Daisy's behavior stems from the era. Women were increasingly scorning traditional behavior as they sought more freedom. Selfishly, Daisy is more interested in her own life with Tom and with Gatsby than she seems to be in her daughter's life. We can wonder, of course, what kind of mother Daisy herself had. What kind of role model did she have to learn how to be a mother? Given that Daisy comes from a wealthy background, she may have been raised by a nanny as well.