How are Daisy's first words in The Great Gatsby, "I'm p-paralyzed with happiness," a lie? What does she really mean?

Daisy's first words in The Great Gatsby, "I'm p-paralyzed with happiness," are not so much a lie as they are an example of insincere social banter. Daisy really says this to explain in a witty and charming way why she barely bothers to move when Nick enters the room.

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It's not so much that Daisy is lying, more that she's cheerfully exaggerating to explain to Nick why she can't be bothered to get off the couch when he enters the room. Yes, she's pleased to see Nick, but she's not so pleased as to get up and greet him properly.

Although Daisy's indulging in a spot of witty banter, there's actually a serious side to her words and actions. For Daisy is the kind of person who doesn't feel the need to rise up off the couch for anyone, such is her sense of entitlement. Those who inhabit Daisy's elite social circle, the blue bloods of East Egg, are the kind of people who can easily cloak their rudeness in a veneer of wit and superficial charm.

Whatever her faults—and there are many—Daisy it at least a very charming young lady. One can certainly see why Gatsby would be so captivated by her. Nonetheless, it's possible to see in her happy “paralysis” a sign of what kind of person Daisy really is behind the charming facade: entitled, overprivileged, and in a world of her own. This helps to explain why Gatsby, despite his best efforts to woo Daisy, will never be able to win her over.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 22, 2021
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It can be argued that Daisy's first words to her cousin Nick Carraway are more of a flattering hyperbole and an example of her charming personality than a blatant lie. In this scene, Daisy is casually sitting on an enormous couch with Jordan Baker when Nick enters her home on a friendly visit.

Since Nick is Daisy's cousin and it is a hot day, she does not feel the need to immediately rise and greet him. Instead, Daisy slightly leans forward, laughs in a charming manner, and tells Nick, "I'm p-paralyzed with happiness." Nick understands that Daisy is joking and engaging in friendly banter. She is simply attempting to be witty and sarcastic with him.

Although it is obvious that Daisy is being playful, her comment establishes her character as a charming, artificial woman whose allure is her voice, playful disposition, and attractive appearance. Daisy has a knack for flattering men, and trivial, humorous comments like this contribute to her appeal. Daisy is continually making light hyperboles and engaging in playful banter with Nick in various scenes.

As more of her character is revealed, the reader learns that she is unhappily married and seriously flawed. One could interpret Daisy's exaggerations and witty banter as an attempt to compensate for her rather depressing situation and shallow personality. She prefers to present herself as a charming, sophisticated woman than a sincere, down-to-earth individual.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 21, 2021
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When Nick enters Tom and Daisy's mansion, Daisy and Jordan are sitting on an enormous sofa, while breezes from the open French doors blow around them. Daisy doesn't make much of an effort to move:

she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression—then she laughed.

At this point, Daisy says she is "p-paralyzed with happiness."

This is her joking way of explaining why she isn't making any more effort to respond to Nick's arrival. What she is saying is that she is glad to see him, but not enough to get up and give him a hug or be emotive.

Saying these words are a lie is too strong a statement. Daisy is not being sincere, but she also is making no deliberate effort to deceive Nick. She knows he knows she is using hyperbole or exaggeration. She isn't that happy to see him, but she is being flattering and witty. This is what we would call social banter, and Nick will soon match her tone, exaggerating in kind.

Primarily, this utterance is meant to show from the start that Daisy has a great deal of charm. Nick knows she is exaggerating, yet at the same time, he is taken in, noting that she has a "way " of

promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see.

This is similar to how Gatsby will later make Nick feel—seen, heard, and delighted in. Daisy and Gatsby share the gift of charm. However, Daisy's insincerity will begin to disturb Nick over the course of the evening and make him feel he is being played.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 20, 2021
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On a surface level, Daisy's comment was meant to indicate that she was pleased to see her long-lost cousin, Nick, but that she didn't want to spend the energy it would take to actually get up from the couch on which she and Jordan Baker were reclining.

The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise-she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression-then she laughed...

There could be several deeper interpretations of Daisy's words and actions. Daisy was accustomed to having people wait on her desires rather than having to exert herself too much. She may have simply felt that Nick was family and therefore it wasn't necessary to work too hard at responding to his arrival.

However, Daisy was also in a marriage that did not fill her with feelings of love and mutual enjoyment. Daisy may have felt "paralyzed" in the sense of being trapped in a relationship that did not involve affection but did give her access to lots of money and the things of wealthy society. While she enjoyed those material items and would not give them up, there was a part of her that wished for more emotional satisfaction.

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