The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What symbolism is there in the name Daisy Fay?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Daisy Fay is the object of Jay Gatsby's affection throughout the novel and is depicted as a beautiful woman, who is superficial and materialistic. Daisy is named after a flower, which symbolically represents her outward appearance and physical beauty. Similar to flowers, Daisy is pretty to look at and stimulates the senses, which is what attracts Gatsby as a young man. Daisies also have white petals and gold pistils, which could symbolically represent Daisy's outwardly pure appearance and her inherent love of money (gold).

Daisy's maiden name Fay symbolically represents her magical voice, enchanting personality, and Gatsby's faith in her. According to Merriam-Webster, the word fay derives from the Middle English word fai, meaning faith. This etymological derivative can symbolically represent the faith and hope that Daisy instills in Jay Gatsby, who believes that he will one day win her heart. Another etymological derivative for Daisy's last name is from the Middle English word faie, meaning fairy. Using this etymological derivative, Daisy's last name symbolically represents her enchanting, magical aura that is expressed through her lovely, hypnotic voice.

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Indeed, there is much symbolism in the name of the object of Gatsby's romantic illusions.  When Daisy is first presented, she is dressed all in white, and episodes of her "white girlhood" and her white car persist in the memory of Jay Gatsby. In Gatsby's mind, therefore, Daisy, the girl-flower of purity and innocence, is the ideal, the "grail" that he seeks.  Ironically, she is later described by Gatsby as the "golden girl" when he hears her voice that Nick describes as sounding "full of money"; thus, there is the suggestion of corruption in this woman named after a flower symbolic of beauty, purity, and the language of love. And, like a daisy, Mrs. Buchanan fades from Jay Gatsby, corrupted and wilted.

That Daisy would betray Gatsby is suggested by her middle name, Fay.  According to Miriam-Webster's dictionary, in Scottish, the word fey means fated to die; also, the word denotes a foreboding of death or calamity.  In English, its denotation is that of being marked by an otherworldly air or attitude.  So, appropriately, this name is symbolic of the illusionary perceptions of Daisy that Gatsby holds, and, above all, the fatal and tragic turn of events for Gatsby.

Like the flower itself, Daisy hides her corrupted soul with vestments of white and frivolousness. Her interior of gold symbolizes her corruption while her middle name foreshadows the disaster that Gatsby's entire dream becomes.

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