What is your opinion of the shirt scene? Why? Explain how this scene affects your reaction to Gatsby and Daisy.

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, this is a subjective question, so you'll have to develop your own opinion about the characters. But I'll analyze the scene a bit to help you along. This scene occurs in Chapter 5, just after Gatsby and Daisy's reunion. It is the moment when Gatsby's life has struggled into focus: he has within his grasp the one thing he has sought for years. All of his wealth is a show for Daisy, and the shirt scene is no exception.

Gatsby began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel.… While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly … [Daisy] began to cry stormily.

“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed.… “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.”

This quote, which comes at the climax of Gatsby’s tour of his mansion, highlights Daisy’s shallow, materialistic nature and Gatsby’s pathetic, transparent efforts to impress her. Gatsby has acquired the material goods of wealth and privilege, but his life is so extravagant as to be absurd. Although Daisy cries, she is not moved by the fact that Gatsby has dedicated his life to winning her back. Instead, she is crying because the shirts are beautiful. The entire section underscores the naivete of Gatsby, and the shallowness of Daisy.

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The Great Gatsby

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