Why is Daisy winking "ferociously towards the fervent sun" and is there a symbolic meaning to this? The question is from chapter one, page 17 or 18 (not sure) relating to this quote:...

Why is Daisy winking "ferociously towards the fervent sun" and is there a symbolic meaning to this?

The question is from chapter one, page 17 or 18 (not sure) relating to this quote:

"We've got to beat them down" whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At dinner, Tom starts spouting his racist views, explaining that the "white race" is going to be completely overwhelmed by other races unless whites manage to rise up and suppress them: an idiotic position given the relative lack of rights enjoyed by persons of color in 1920s America. He's getting worked up, and Daisy is clearly mocking him, saying, "Tom's getting very profound [...]. He reads deep books with long words in them." She appears to be poking fun at Tom's lack of intelligence; her references to deep books and long words especially seem designed to ridicule him. Tom grows impatient, continuing on with his ridiculous claims. "'We've got to beat them down,' whispered Daisy [in response], winking ferociously toward the fervent sun." Tom is speaking rather impatiently and angrily at this point because he very much wants to be taken seriously, so Daisy's ferocious wink mocks his heightened state of emotion. It isn't certain to me whether she disagrees with him or whether she just enjoys mocking and ribbing him (as she did a few pages earlier when she repeats the word "hulking" just because it irritates him). I don't think she really has principles, and so it seems likely that she doesn't disagree; she simply isn't that thoughtful.

Fervent is an interesting choice because it can simply mean very hot or glowing, which literally describes the sun. However, it can also mean intense or zealous, as Tom very much seems to be. Therefore, Nick's choice to describe the sun as fervent brings to mind both the sun's hot glow as well as Tom's ludicrous intensity concerning the status of whites as he sits in his huge mansion in East Egg, enjoying a lavish meal on expensive china.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Daisy is merely parroting her husband's words here. She does not have any true convictions, in this instance she is merely mirroring what she has obviously heard from Tom numerous times.

She is detached in what she is saying, her face uplifted toward the sun. Daisy clearly does not share strong feelings on the subject of racism. Looking up into the bright sun shows her disinterest in the subject at hand.

The term "winking" could be symbolic, she winks as she whispers her agreement, thereby showing she is not agree with Tom. The term "ferociously" shows the extent to which she holds contempt for her husband and his opinions.

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The Great Gatsby

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