Why Does Daisy Cry About The Shirts

What does the following quote say about Daisy from The Great Gatsby?

"They're such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her muffled in the folds. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such beautiful shirts." 

In The Great Gatsby, Daisy's reaction to the shirts demonstrates both her regret and her materialism. This moment happens during her first visit to Gatsby's mansion. By the time she reaches Gatsby's bedroom, she is overwhelmed to see the wealth of the man she left behind. It seems that Daisy cries because she realizes she made a mistake in choosing to marry Tom for money, not realizing that one day, Gatsby, the man she truly loved, would be rich.

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Daisy Buchanan sobs when she sees Jay Gatsby's impressive collection of tailor-made shirts for several reasons. Her initial reaction being to sob at the collection of shirts highlights her superficial personality and materialistic nature. Daisy is portrayed as an extremely shallow woman, who is primarily concerned about her social status and wealth. Witnessing Gatsby's expensive shirts evokes a visceral reaction from Daisy, which depicts her attachment to valuable material objects. Compared to her reaction to accidentally killing Myrtle and her refusal to attend Gatsby's funeral, her emotional reaction to the shirts is more poignant and emphasizes the extent of her superficiality.

One could also argue that Daisy cries because she recognizes what she has lost by choosing to marry the callous, arrogant Tom Buchanan. At the time Gatsby was dating Daisy in Kentucky, he could not afford such lavish items or impress her with a show of wealth. After Gatsby was deployed overseas, she made the rational decision to marry Tom based on his social status, which turned out to be a terrible mistake. At the moment Daisy sees the custom shirts, she recognizes her mistake and regrets her decision. She can see an alternative, better life with Gatsby, where she does not have to question his fidelity or feel insecure.

Daisy may also cry at the shirts because they affirm Gatsby's wealth and prove that he is the person he claims to be. After five years, Daisy may be apprehensive to believe that her former lover is a wealthy bachelor living across the water. Daisy even admits to being jaded and could assume that Gatsby was simply lying about his background. The custom shirts are proof that Gatsby owns the mansion and is telling the truth, which is important to Daisy and evokes an emotional reaction from her.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 13, 2021
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Superficially, it might appear that Daisy cries about Gatsby's "beautiful shirts" purely because she is a woman who appreciates money and material things. This is, after all, the overriding impression she exudes: she has a voice "full of money" and seems driven to associate with people who can provide her with beautiful things. Gatsby knows how much she loves beautiful things: he is revaluing everything in his house, Nick says, depending on how Daisy reacts to it.

However, there also seems to be another element at play here. When Daisy knew Gatsby and loved Gatsby, he was not the sort of man who could ever have afforded shirts of this quality. Daisy sobs over the shirts, then, partly because they are beautiful, but also surely in part because she is both proud and devastated to know what sort of man Gatsby has become. As he is now a wealthy man, she could have married him and had not only his wealth, but his love. She is glad for Gatsby that he is able to afford these things, because she does love him. At the same time, she is crying about the life she set aside because, at the time, it did not fit with what she expected and what was expected for her. If only Gatsby had been able to afford such beautiful shirts earlier in their acquaintance, she would not have married Tom and would have been much happier today.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 13, 2021
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It is hard to understand exactly why Daisy is crying over Gatsby's display of his expensive tailor-made shirts. She realizes that he wanted to win her by becoming rich. She already came from a wealthy family. He voice "is full of money," as Gatsby says. She is married to a rich man, and she knows that wealth doesn't bring happiness, but you can't escape from wealth if you have it. And then by having it and making a conspicuous display of having it, you induce other people like Gatsby to try to emulate you. When he makes a rather vulgar display of his wealth with his shirts, he is doing what the old-money rich people do in a more subtle way. She sees that money can't really buy much but frivolous luxuries, and that she herself is one of those frivolous luxuries. This is part of the reason for her burst of tears, but there is a lot more behind them.

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Well, one of the most important things that this quote tells the reader about Daisy is that she is extremely materialistic.  If the reader has not yet picked up on that fact, this quote is sure to give away that information.  Daisy says this the very first time she visits Gatsby's mansion.  She is overwhelmed by everything that she sees, and Gatsby's bedroom (which is where she is when she says this quote) is the last place that he takes her to on the tour that he gives Daisy of the mansion.  Although Tom and Daisy are wealthy, Gatsby is very over-the-top in terms of showing off what he has.  It seems that Daisy is just so overexcited about how rich Gatsby is that at this point she can no longer contain herself -- which is why she says what she say in that quote.

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