Daisy Buchanan

The reality of Daisy

Charming but manipulativeNick notes how she gazes at him as if "there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see", adding drily, "That was a way she had."
Lazy and rather passiveShe doesn't bother to stand when Nick arrives, joking that she is "paralysed with happiness" to see him. Perhaps this attitude extends to her husband's infidelity, which she tolerates, an attitude which baffles Nick.
Bored and dissatisfiedHer life of luxury seems to leave her bored and dissatisfied: "What'll we plan? What do people plan?"
Lacks any strength of character or courageShe flees the scene when she accidentally kills Myrtle, and allows Tom go on believing that it was Gatsby who was driving.

Daisy's world

Coming from Louisville, Kentucky - which is in the geographic area of the USA classed as 'the South' - Daisy could be seen as conforming to the old-fashioned southern model of femininity.
Closeup of Louisville, Kentucky on a road map of the United States
Closeup of Louisville, Jason Kolenda / Alamy Stock Photo

She hopes that her daughter grows up:

a fool - that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.

Daisy's attitude could alternatively be viewed as a shrewd (albeit cynical) one. In a world dominated by men, intelligence in a woman could lead to frustration and unhappiness.

Daisy has always been sheltered by money. After her initial fling with Gatsby, she:

vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby nothing.

She survived:

gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.

The image of Daisy

Daisy is presented initially as an ethereal, almost angelic presence, reclining elegantly with Jordan on a couch, each wearing a long white flowing dress:

fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after short flight around the house.

Daisy is constantly linked to the colour white. Her name suggests a pristine white flower. When she was a young woman, she:

dressed in white, and had a little white roadster.

Daisy's feelings for Gatsby

Jordan tells Nick that when Daisy's family prevented her from seeing Gatsby off to war, she protested by not speaking to them for several weeks. This relatively short period of time suggests her feelings were not very deep. A year later, Daisy was rumoured to be engaged to someone else, and a few months after that she married Tom, although according to Jordan, Daisy had doubts the night before the wedding after receiving a letter from Gatsby.

When she rekindles her affair with Gatsby, she seems to be greatly moved by the opulence of Gatsby's home and possessions – she buries her head in his expensive shirts and sobs about their beauty. Jordan had said to Nick that Daisy ought to have something in her life. We are unsure if Daisy finds the affair simply a diversion, or even a means of revenge on Tom, who is constantly unfaithful to her.

But the best she can say to Gatsby when he forces her to choose between him and Tom is that she loves him as well. When Gatsby tries to persuade her to leave Tom, she backs down. Nick comments:

she had never, all along, intended doing anything at all.