What purpose does Daisy serve for Gatsby?  

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In Chapter One of The Great Gatsby, Nick observes Jay Gatsby for the first time:  Gatsby stands, with outstretched trembling arms, gazing longingly at the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan's pier.  For, Daisy represents for Gatsby an unattainable grail; she represents social prestige, money, and, in her white dresses and with her name, an idealized purity.

The plotline of Fitzgerald's novel reflects the falseness of Jay Gatsby's idealization of Daisy, a falseness that parallels the illusionary American Dream of the Jazz Age of easy money and amoral social values.  Just as the American Dream of Jay Gatsby is falsified with his illegally made money and the illusions of his social status, so, too, is Daisy revealed to be false in her purity and decency, and her love for him.  Daisy only possesses attributes because Jay Gatsby instills them with meaning; she is as empty of significance as the times in which she and Gatsby live--as corrupt as the Valley of Ashes. 

Fitzgerald's novel both satirizes the nouveau riche as well as it portrays the illusionary quality of the American Dream.  The character of Daisy serves as the symbol of the empty materialism and lack of morals of the Jazz Age.  Gatsby's assignment of meaning to Daisy is as illusionary as his dream of social advancement through illegal money and deception. 

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