How does F. Scott Fitzgerald establish Daisy as a shallow and empty character in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fitzgerald wastes no time planting the beginnings of his characterization of Daisy by introducing her first by her laugh, "an absurd, charming little laugh"; within a few pages, she reveals herself to be less than intellectually gifted when she says of her husband, in reference to a book he's mentioned, "Tom's getting very profound. . .He reads deep books with long words in them." 

As she and Nick Carraway, the narrator, are conversing later in the visit, she proclaims that "We don't know each other very well, Nick" before going on to explain how disillusioned she has become in the years since they last met; on the subject of her daughter, she also tells this cousin she doesn't know well that she woke from childbirth feeling abandoned, not knowing where her husband was (at this point, the reader had already been made aware of Tom's proclivities for extramarital dalliances), and weeping as she found out the baby was a girl.  Daisy says that she told the nurse, "I'm glad it's a girl.  And I hope she'll be a fool--that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool."  Herein, then, is an irony of sorts, because whether she is trying to, or not, Daisy is a exactly that:  a beautiful fool.  She appears to say exactly what she thinks, and most of what she thinks is generally vapid and shallow, thoughtless, often rambling, and occasionally not even making much sense, such as when she announced that Nick's presence at her dinner table reminded her of "an absolute rose". 

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The Great Gatsby

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