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Chapter 6 Great Gatsby Quotes

Key Concepts:

Terms in this set (107)

The Drums of Destiny

Seeking "future glory" (though never quite mentioning a physical notion of what that glory will be, instead holding it as a lofty and unattainable ideal), Gatsby finds himself in the cold, frozen abyss of "Minnesota," where "St. Olaf" (top) starkly contrasts Oxford (bottom), which he later claims to have attended:

I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition."

Gatsby, in the restless mindset of the period, leaves his "small" college, nameless and insignificant compared to the prestigious Oxford.

In fact, Gatsby doesn't merely resent his own anonymity. Rather, he directs his frustration "at" his college, absurdly blaming an inanimate object for not recognizing "the drums of his destiny." Once again, Gatsby is stuck in an invisible, unable-to-be-controlled existence, far from his dreams of "future glory," far from the beat of his own "drums." Nick emphasizes Gatsby's insignificance and lack of free will with repeated "d" alliteration, connoting a dull, dead existence. As a lower class janitor, Gatsby, like a servant, like an African American, is socially dead.

While Gatsby has dreams of his own great fortune, he does not want to work for them in the humble way. Because of his romantic readiness, Gatsby wants his life to be a fairy tale, in which this glory is thrust upon him. The idea of working his way through college to possibly earn a well paying job one day does not sound appealing to him, so he quits. However, the idea that he could be whisked away on a yacht or marry a "Princess Charming" to gain his wealth sounds like a perfectly romantic way for Gatsby to gain his fortune.
This line describes Daisy's prejudices against new wealth and that culture, especially Broadway and the culture of rich people that come from there. The 1920's was when Broadway first started to become a popular form of entertainment, as a result of the popularity and influence of Vaudeville. Broadway created a culture of celebrity obsession because Broadway shows in the 20's emphasized the celebrities in them rather than the content, just like Vaudeville acts like Ziegfeld's Follies.

In many ways, West Egg is a knock off of East Egg in the same fashion that plays on Broadway have sets in place of reality. West Egg, this "Long Island Fishing Village," is a pretender to the nobility and wealth contained on its twin island. Thus, the people living in it are actors and posers, and in Daisy's opinion, not as good as the real deal. In this context, West Egg has become the place for newly wealthy people who got their money from Broadway success to live their lavish lifestyles, and Daisy resents them because these newly wealthy people created this "unprecedented" place instead of actually being born in and a part of the upper class. She sees it as no more than some pompous houses on a "Long Island Fishing Village." She didn't care if they were famous because all that matters to her is whether or not someone was born into wealth.

The following passage includes Nick's personal analysis of Daisy. Although it seems accurate, it's important to keep in mind that the novel isn't being narrated by Fitzgerald or some completely omniscient narrator. This is Nick's understanding of Daisy.
Daisy was raised in an upper class environment where propriety and self presentation was everything, causing her to value etiquette and social strategy more than those of New Wealth, such as Gatsby and those who attended his parties. This instilled in Daisy a prejudice against those who didn't act the part well, as well as those who defied the social boundaries.

When Daisy saw the director and the actress embrace, she admired the actress herself, yet took "offense" to the strained and generally hedonistic nature of their encounter together, reflecting her general opinion of Gatsby's partygoers and the West egg.

The spirit of Gatsby's parties, as well as those of New Wealth and the West Egg, comes from a contrived performance born of the American Dream, essentially a front worn by those who craved to be at the top of the social hierarchy in order to reach that goal. This performance is both sincere and insincere in the purest forms, as the New Wealth individuals genuinely deserved a high position due to hard work and virtue, yet they became artificial shells of themselves in impersonation of the Old Wealth in order to slip seamlessly into the highest birthright caste without being detected as one who didn't belong. Additionally, those of the New Wealth had lost sensitivity in their ability to enjoy life as they became accustomed to high class lifestyles, prompting them to go to more dramatic measures to get a thrill out of life.

This was the "simplicity" that Daisy had failed to understand; she took offense to the facades displayed by the party-goers, as well as their hedonistic behavior, which differed greatly from her personal morals. Daisy didn't understand the cause of their behavior patterns, as she had been taught to withhold sympathy from lower classes and backgrounds, prompting her to think that these people were obtrusive and greatly flawed.
In the moment when Gatsby achieves that which he desired most, a chance at social mobility disguised as a kiss from Daisy, it becomes apparent that a phase of his life is over, and his journey, in a sense, has come to a climax. The pinnacle of this "incarnation" has ended his era of imagination and idleness about not only a future with Daisy, but also a life of social status, bringing a sense of reality of the situation, even as the situation maintains a sense of Gasby-eque drama, as Gatsby's performance births a new perspective in his pursuit of prestige. The kiss symbolizes reciprocation in Gatsby's infatuation with the wealthy and higher-class characters in the novel, as his recent performances, with characters such as Dan Cody, had made him of interest to their kind, giving him the social mobility he so desired in his previous stage of life.

The usage of the word "incarnation" invokes a divine aura about Gatsby and his relationship with Daisy, as he has come from a humble past and rises up to a seemingly omnipotent position. Nick describes Gatsby as "a Son of God" and suggests that Gatsby's persona developed into a "Platonic" being; perhaps, then, this was the moment that the transformation took place, as he was locked into an eternal addiction to Daisy's love and status (F. Scott Fitzgerald 98). He was driven by the desire not only for Daisy's love and approval, but for social status: to become a godlike, all-powerful entity among men.

ACCEPTED COMMENT: One other comparatively minor item of note is Fitzgerald's reliance on flower imagery especially in reference to Daisy. While Gatsby holds her in the highest regard, elevating her to near divinity, she is "grounded" by this earthly description. When Gatsby kisses her, she blossoms for him, almost as if he is some omnipotent source that breathes life into the flowering landscape. This connotation is also consistent with Gatsby's ability to romanticize and enliven almost anything to his advantage; but people, like flowers, are ultimately transient. While the beautiful, flower-like Daisy may bloom and flourish with Gatsby's kiss, she is at her peak here and now enters the inevitable descent toward death (paralleling their doomed relationship). Incidentally, the word 'incarnation' contains the word 'carnation,' another flower reference, though likely unintended.