One of the most cherished couples in all of American literature is Daisy Faye Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, the doomed lovers from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby. Of all the beautiful people one might read, they seem the most adorable.
Fitzgerald uses a powerful device to show what makes these people attractive and attracted to each other. Instead of describing many indelible aspects of each, he selects one thing to accentuate and makes that beyond spectacular. For daisy it is her voice, and for Gatsby it is his smile.
There are fewer references to Gatsby’s smile than to Daisy’s voice, but those few are powerful. The first and last stands out. We first see the Gatsby grin when he meets Nick at one of the Summer Bacchanals. It was a smile of eternal reassurance, one that was for everyone before it focused on you and made you feel every good thing about yourself you ever wanted felt. I would like someone to smile at me like that.
The other took place as Nick leaves Gatsby, not knowing it was for the last time. He paid him the only compliment he ever offered, and Gatsby smiled. His smile said that they were always in agreement on the praise just pronounced.
Daisy had a voice that drew people in and held them spellbound. Notice just a few of its descriptions.
- Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lean toward her. Her voice is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.
- When she comes to Nick’s house for tea, he says her voice was a wild tonic in the rain.
- After she’s reunited with Gatsby, Nick says her voice told only of her unexpected joy.
- Gatsby himself comments that Daisy has an indiscreet voice that is full of money.
- During the reunion, Nick observes Gatsby is still drawn to her voice because it could never be over-dreamed.
Daisy’s existence had always been shallow. So when she meets a young soldier whose smile confirms all the good qualities she whishes she had, or even affirms all the positive characteristics she thinks she has, but never had them validated, it is clear why she would fall for that type.
Daisy’s voice was always full of hope and promises. For a young Gatsby trying to recreate himself into perfection, this voice bolsters his dreams. Each is sustained by the other and they pour themselves into the same mould every young couple in love tries to do. Their story ends in death and sadness, yet theirs is a timeless tale of passion that persists even when it seems there is no more reason.
Much more cold be said, and will be soon. I am working on a book about The Great Gatsby, particularly the narratorship of Nick Carraway. I’ll tell you more when I have more to tell. Now you can tell me more in the Comment section below. Also, let me know if you want to be added to my monthly newsletter – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some more articles regarding The Great Gatsby you can find here on A Word Fitly Spoken:
- “Why The Great Gatsby Is The Best American Novel” (6.21.12)
- “The Reliability Of Nick Carraway: Part One – The Naysaying Narrator” (10.9.12)
- “The Reliability Of Nick Carraway: Part Two – The Drive To Lunch” (10.11.12)
- “Who Shot Jay Gatsby?” (3.4.13)