What is the author's intention in mentioning the star and film director in chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby?
Does it reflect the relationship of Gatsby and Daisy or convey that what we see is only shadows?
"'Perhaps you know that lady.' Gatsby indicated a gorgeous, scarcely human orchid of a woman who sat in state under a white plum tree. Tom and Daisy stared, with that peculiarly unreal feeling that accompanies the
recognition of a hitherto ghostly celebrity of the movies.
It was like that. Almost the last thing I remember was standing with Daisy and watching the moving picture director and his Star. They were still under the white plum tree and their faces were touching except for a pale thin ray of moonlight between. It occurred to me that he had been very slowly bending toward her all evening to attain this proximity, and even while I watched I saw him stoop one ultimate degree and kiss at her cheek."
This passage offers a number of subjects for literary discussion but primarily serves to continue the exploration of the glamour theme in The Great Gatsby. Glamour is a central idea of the novel, relating to notions of perception, false perception, the magic of celebrity, and the hollowness of a culture that mistakes glitz for moral value.
In this passage, the film star and director are set apart from the rest of the party. They occupy a metaphorically fabricated space, like a film set, and perform there as the party-goers look on.
This situation directly parallels Gatsby's relationship to the parties he hosts. Gatsby is set apart and seen from a distance and can be described as performing a role.
Gatsby himself is a put-on, with his “Oggsford” accent, fine clothes, and “old boy” routine...
Another parallel offered in this passage is presented in the directors slow but steady pursuit of the affections of the actress. The moonlight here echoes the moonlight of Gatsby's great dream expressed elsewhere in the novel (the ladder dream) and the insistent and sly approach the director makes to kiss the actress can be seen as a metaphor for Gatsby's courtship of Daisy.
Finally, the actress is a person who belongs to the medium of illusion. This, again, is the nature of glamour and mirage - to be two things at once, one real and the other false. She is a real person, obviously, yet she is not like the others at the party. In a significant way, the star belongs to the illusion of film.
Gatsby fits the same description and this, ultimately, is his tragedy. Gatsby is destined to "fail because of his inability to separate the ideal from the real."