How does Daisy's marriage to Tom affect Gatsby's plans in The Great Gatsby?

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may-stone eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a young man, Gatsby had fallen in love with Daisy, but by the time he’d made enough of himself to support her and be able to ask for her hand in marriage, Daisy married Tom, a wealthy socialite (although he’s also a bigot and a cheater).  Gatsby continues to add to his own personal fortune, hoping vainly to one day become so rich and so popular (the epitome of the American “noveau riche”) that he will come to Daisy’s attention and possible adoration.  Gatsby even buys a mansion opposite from hers, across a large body of water, and stares at “a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock,” which is Daisy’s dock, dreaming of her.

Although he finally achieves his goal when Daisy attends one of his giant parties, Gatsby’s larger dream of marrying Daisy and building with her the 1920s tycoon’s version of the American dream is not destined to come to pass.  She is committed to her husband Tom, although she murders his mistress with Gatsby's car. Gatsby’s actions to shield Daisy from a criminal investigation ultimately end in his homicide.  However, Gatsby becomes a symbol of the continuing reach for the American dream, as one of its most fervent dreamers; the narrator comments, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.”

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The Great Gatsby

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