The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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In chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, Nick tells Gatsby that he (Gatsby) can't recreate the past, and Gatsby replies that he can. How is Gatsby trying to recreate the past?

In chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is trying to "repeat the past" by attempting to pick up his relationship with Daisy Buchanan as though it hasn't been five years since they last saw one another. He hopes that she will confess her love to him and declare that she never loved her husband, acting as though nothing has changed. Unfortunately, it has.

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After the party Tom and Daisy attend at Gatsby's house, the Buchanans leave, and Gatsby expresses his fears that Daisy did not like the party and did not have a good time. Gatsby says that he "feel[s] far away from her" rather than emotionally close, as they once were, and he tells Nick that he's having a hard time "mak[ing] her understand." Presumably, he means that he's having a difficult time getting Daisy to understand what exactly it is that he wants from her, for the two of them now.

Nick believes that Gatsby wants nothing less from Daisy than that she march right up to Tom and declare that she never loved him, doing away with their three years of marriage, the life they have built, as well as their daughter. Gatsby is trying to repeat the past by expecting that he and Daisy will simply fall into their old, familiar roles. The problem is that Daisy can't; she is different now than she was then. Gatsby wants her to confess her love of him and deny and swear off Tom; in short, he wants them to pick right back up where they left off five years earlier, as though they are the exact same people and nothing at all has changed. Gatsby would like for Daisy to act as though these years have not separated them and that she is emotionally free. This is something she cannot do.

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