Why does Gatsby show Daisy all of his shirts? How does Daisy react and why?

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This iconic scene is one of the most memorable ones in the novel. Gatsby takes advantage of Daisy being in his dressing area to show her his vast assortment of finely-made shirts. He casually mentions they are bought for him in England. He tosses them, along with many silk ties,...

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This iconic scene is one of the most memorable ones in the novel. Gatsby takes advantage of Daisy being in his dressing area to show her his vast assortment of finely-made shirts. He casually mentions they are bought for him in England. He tosses them, along with many silk ties, into the air, and Daisy is overwhelmed by their quality and also by the realization that Gatsby is wealthy. She refused to accept his marriage proposal when she was younger because Gatsby had nothing; and now he has immense wealth. She sobs when she comments on how beautiful the shirts are, saying she's never seen such beautiful shirts before. She is mourning her bad decision and, perhaps, her lost youth and missed opportunities.

It is somewhat cold-hearted of Gatsby to remind her of what she rejected; and knowing Daisy's love of fine clothing and luxury, he very likely knows the impact his actions will have. But like many of the things he does when Daisy becomes part of his life again after so many years, he carefully calculates the effect of his actions in order to win her over. Gatsby is trying to seduce Daisy and prove to her that his determination to become a rich man had to do with winning her love. He is successful, because Daisy has an extramarital affair with him, even though it eventually becomes clear she won't leave her husband. Gatsby's selfish desire to steal Daisy from her husband is matched by Daisy's selfish refusal to uproot her life to be with Gatsby.

 

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