How Does Daisy React To The Phone Calls From Toms Woman In New York

How does Daisy respond to the phone call from Tom's "woman in New York" in chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby?


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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the butler informs Tom about the call, he quietly goes inside. Daisy's first response, although seemingly neutral, clearly indicates that she is disturbed. She talks to Nick, "her voice glowing and singing." Nick observes that Tom's absence seems to have quickened something within her, suggesting that her bright and pleasant tone is an affectation to hide her disapproval and disappointment.

Daisy's effort to fool Nick fail, for she cannot stop herself from going inside. Nick states that:

...suddenly she threw her napkin on the table and excused herself and went into the house.

The fact that Daisy was quite upset becomes clearer when we later read that the conversation that Ms. Baker was very keen to pry into was quite passionate and dramatic: 

A subdued impassioned murmur was audible in the room beyond...


The murmur trembled on the verge of coherence, sank down, mounted excitedly, and then ceased altogether.

Jordan Baker then tells Nick that Tom has "some woman in New York." It is clear that she assumes that it is this woman who has just disturbed their dinner with her ill-timed call.

When Tom and Daisy return, she makes a remark filled with "tense gaiety," further indicating that she was upset. She searches Nick's and Jordan's faces, probably to determine whether and how they were affected by what has just transpired. To distract further attention from the clearly unpleasant event, she starts talking about romance and tries to draw Tom into the conversation. His response is somewhat terse and he turns his attention to Nick.

Daisy's charade falls apart when the phone suddenly rings again and she gives Tom a decisive indication that he should not respond. This second invasion brings to an end all pleasantries, driving Nick to remark later:

To a certain temperament the situation might have seemed intriguing — my own instinct was to telephone immediately for the police. 

Daisy's displeasure is emphasized later when she tells Nick that she had had a bad time and that she was "pretty cynical about everything." She refers to her daughter and indirectly refers to herself when she states the hope that Pammy will be a fool since that is the best thing a girl can be, "a beautiful little fool." It is evident that Daisy feels humiliated, for she has been made a fool of. It would have been better if she were such a fool to not be aware of Tom's adulterous transgressions.   

The incident does to a certain extent foreshadow a much more profound encounter later, when Daisy tragically kills Myrtle Wilson, Tom's mistress and the one who called, when she drives Gatsby's car and hits her when she runs into the road.    

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At first, when Tom is called away, Daisy ignores it, only seeming to react as the call had "quickened something within her."  However, after calling Nick "a rose" and saying it was delight to have him there, she gets up from the table and goes into the hosue. 

When she comes back with Tom, Daisy babbles a bit about how "romantic" the evening is.  She is obviously rattled by the phone call, but tries to play it off in high spirits.  The rest of the dinner is tense and mostly quiet.

It isn't until after dinner, when Nick goes outside with Daisy, that she betrays some of what she was really feeling.  Daisy says this this:

“Well, I’ve had a very bad time, Nick, and I’m pretty cynical about everything.”

It is clear that Daisy is fully aware of her husband's indiscretions, and is unhappy.  She goes on to talk about her daughter, and says that she wishes her daughter would grow up a "fool".  Daisy suggests here that to be a fool would be to have happiness - as if she believes that if she didn't know about Tom's woman, she herself would be happier.

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The Great Gatsby

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