Examine the three love-affairs between Myrtle & Tom,
• How did they get to know each other?
• Description of their affair
• Interpretation (including character facts) -What let them come together? -Why did it fail?
- Myrtle & Tom
• It is told that they met in a train for the first time when Myrtle was going to see her sister in New York. Myrtle couldn’t keep her eyes off Tom and wanted him from the very beginning on. Leaving the train they touched, she made a joke about calling the police and later didn’t realise that she got into a taxi with him instead of getting into a subway train.
• Normally they called each other or Tom drove to Wilson’s garage fooling him with a planned deal and they arranged a meeting point to go to town where they had rented an apartment.Tom bought her things she wanted to have, even a dog. In their apartment they had little parties with neighbours and friends and some of them got drunk.
Myrtle had fun sitting on Tom’s lap and talking about everything which came to her mind. The people around them said they both couldn’t stand the person they were married to and Myrtle confirmed it obscencely and violantly. She ran her husband down. There were speculations about divorce and starting a new life in the west.
But they had arguements, too. Once they had a discussion whether Myrtle had any right to mention Daisy’s name, and Tom hit her so hard that her nose was broken afterwards.
Later as Mr Wilson noticed that his wife had a life apart from his, he locked her up and wanted to move away soon. But Myrtle defended herself and wanted to escape with Tom in the car which she expected him to be in. That caused her cruel death.
Tom who had first heard the story about going away from Mr Wilson had already been confused because Myrtle, his loved mistress, was slipping from his control when he saw her dead body and so he had glazed eyes and later even tears were running down his cheeks (p.134 l.32).
• I believe that Myrtle saw a possibility to leave her boring unpleasant life with Tom and because he was rich and also handsome she simply became crazy about him.
Refering to their first meeting she said that all she kept thinking about over and over was “You can’t live forever, you can’t live forever“ (p.38 l.17-18). Myrtle was a woman who wanted to have fun in life and expected a certain prosperity which Mr Wilson couldn’t give her but Tom enabled her to have. With that affair she had found a basis for her pretence of being a lady.
© Martina Pyko (Jan.’01)
Furthermore I suppose that, as Nick called it, the belief in the better future
tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.....And one fine morning (p.169 l.25-26)
also Myrtle really believed in a future with Tom by leaving her old life behind. Considering Tom’s reasons for loving her I think it’s of great value that Myrtle had a sensuous vitality although she was faintly stout. Her naturalness, which was an entirely opposite of Daisy’s appearance, made her the object of Tom’s sexual desire. He once remarked that she was his girl and I feel he used that word because she was easy to please in his eyes similar to a child who wore coloured and flashy clothes as she did.
In my opinion Tom needed a woman totally different from Daisy who admired him, which Daisy had stopped doing soon after their marriage.
He also felt pity for her because he mentioned that it did her good to get away from the so called valley of ashes (p.29 l.19) and he was the one who made it possible.
But on the other hand if you ask whether Tom would have left Daisy some facts have let me reach the conclusion that he never would have done so.
For him Myrtle was his mistress and nothing else. He enjoyed meeting her but another woman contrary to Diasy could replace her as well for the reason that he never spoke badly about his wife or questioned their marriage. He even started to fight for Daisy as he realized that he had a rival in Gatsby. He promised Daisy to take better care of her from then on (p.127 l.16) and claimed to love her.
Myrtle would have abandoned her previous life and that’s the huge difference which would have destroyed the relationship one day anyway.
- Jordan & Nick
• Nick and Jordan got to know each other at the Buchanans’ mansion. The whole meeting is told from Nick’s point of view and he described her outward appearance often and very detailed. She was lying on a sofa and gave no hint of seeing him. He remarked that she was beautiful and he was almost bewildered by her standoffish behaviour and the complete self sufficiency she radiated (p.15). For Nick she seemed to be out of his reach because she looked and behaved so cool with her white dress and her impersonal eyes.
Later as she uttered something after saying nothing for a long time both of them were surprised. Nick noticed that she didn’t drink because of her sport. It occured to him that he had seen her somewhere before and then he noticed that she was Jordan Baker the famous tennis player. He remembered having heard some unpleasant stories about her but didn’t care.
During dinner Jordan told Nick about Tom’s affair and as she said “Goodbye“ because she wanted to go to bed early Daisy mentioned that she wanted to fling Nick and her together.
• By chance they met again at Gatsby’s party and she took care of Nick and introduced him to some other guests although she was there with an escort.They were spending the evening together and in the end she told him that she wanted to see him again and asked him to call her.
For a while they lost contact but in midsummer they went to places together which flattered Nick because she was a wellknown golf champion. But then he himself said that it was something more for him not love but a sort of tender curiosity (p.58 l.20-21).
© Martina Pyko (Jan.’01)
She once remarked that she hated careless people and that this was the reason why she liked him. Nick claimed that she had shifted their relationship on purpose that day.
Some days later as they were taking a walk in the dark he put his arm around Jordan’s shoulder and drew her toward him and asked her to dinner. After talking about Gatsby and Daisy he drew her up again and she smiled.
They were in New York very often and he tried to ingratiate himself with her aunt. Together they arranged the meeting between Daisy and Gatsby and took part in the tumult between Tom, his wife and Gatsby. Actually that happened on Nick’s 30th birthday and he was glad to have Jordan beside him after noticing that and after the arguement which concerned the others (p.130).
Then they became witnesses of the accident which had already happened as well and afterwards in front of the Bucchanan’s house Nick had enough of all of them for one day and suddenly that included Jordan, too. She must have seen something of this in his expression for she turned abruptly away and ran into the house (p.135 l.24-27).
Some day Jordan called him but they didn’t find a basis for meeting again and so they hung up and Nick mentioned that it didn’t matter to him.
Probably some weeks later they saw each other again and talked about what had happened to them together. She told him she was engaged and from her point of view he had thrown her over. Jordan said that she didn’t give a damn about him anymore and that she had been wrong when she once had said he was an honest person. Nick answered that he was too old to lie to himself and call it honor and described that he turned away angrily, half in love with her and terribly sorry (p.166-167).
• I’m convinced that Nick was interested in Jordan because of her outward appearance. He often spoke about her attractive power and enjoyed looking at her because she was slender, sportive, small-breasted and had an errect carriage (p.15).
Another point was her social class. She was wealthy, famous and independent and that caused a respect for her in Nick. The way I see it he was not really interested in her character, he even neglected her cheating. He once said that dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply (p.59 l.14).
In the beginning it seemed to me that he didn’t like her careless, bored and arrogant behaviour. But entering the upper class (for example becoming Gatsby’s friend) it didn’t matter to him any more. In the end he lost respect for Jordan because in his eyes she wasn’t acting better than the others after the tumult and Myrtle’s death.
We don’t get to know much about Jordans opinion but I suppose she firstly had a bad impression of Nick because he was of a lower class and so wasn’t worth her time. But after noticing his contact to Gatsby her judgement changed.
I think the fact that Jordan is a good friend of Daisy helped developing their relationship, too. Both of them were going around alone with a couple ( Daisy and Tom) and becoming a couple as well was a nearby possibility.
To answer the question why it failed we have to examine Nick’s view refering to the importance of love. For him love isn’t the central element of life which we could also see in his hints about his past. His intentions towards Jordan were mostly sexual and practical and not of real deep feelings. From the very beginning he knew that he wouldn’t stay in East Egg forever and I feel it was an affair which could please him for a while but not forever.
Jordan seemed to be a bit upset after the unexpected end of their story but got over it fast enough, (her engagement p.166). So I‘ve reached the conclusion that she didn’t really love Nick either.
© Martina Pyko (Jan.’01)
- Daisy and Gatsby
• Actually it is not told when and how they met for the first time.
We just get to know that Gatsby went to her house firstly with other officers when both of them were young. Jordan saw them sitting in a car together in Louisville in 1917 and they went out together (p.140). Gatsby was an officer and she was a girl who every young man wanted to date. It excited him that many men had already loved Daisy which increased her value in his eyes (p.74).
In an autumn night they had been walking as they stopped and turned toward each other. His heart beat faster and as his lips touched hers. She blossomed for him like a flower. His first intention to take what he could get from her and go didn’t succeed because he admired her and found out he really loved her and she was in love with him as well (p.140-141).
Then Gatsby was drafted to the war. On the last afternoon before he went abroad they sat together and he kissed her hair. He himself said they had never been closer in their month of love than in these moments. Daisy’s family prevented her intention to go to New York to say goodbye and because of that she didn’t speak with her family for several weeks. Daisy also didn’t play around with others any more but in her letters Gatsby felt a nervous despair.
By the next autumn she was gay again and in February she was engaged. Before her bridal dinner in June she got drunk because of Gatsby’s letter and cried but on the next day the incident was over and she married Tom Bucchanan (p.75-76).
When Gatsby went back to Louisville after the war overseas she was already on her wedding trip and remembering their common time tears were running down his face (p.143-144).
• After becoming rich Gatsby moved to East Egg just because of her and was very nervous before their first meeting after years, which he had planned exactly.
As they saw each other there was silence. Daisy was frightened but graceful and they didn’t know what to say. A bit later it got better and according to Nick’s description Gatsby glowed and Daisy’s unexpected joy was only visible because of her throat, full of aching, grieving beauty.
They went to his mansion and she was fascinated and even cried at the sight of his shirts which he presented her emotionally. Listening to some music they became completely engrossed in each other (p.93-94).
They met again because Daisy visited his next party with her husband. She danced with Gatsby and they were sitting alone infront of Nick’s house for half an hour. In the end of the evening as Tom uttered some suspicions about Gatsby Daisy defended him.
Then Gatsby changed his life. He didn’t give large parties any more and fired his servants because Daisy visited him very often in the afternoons and he didn’t want any gossip. He wanted her to tell Tom about them and his intention was to start a new life by marrying her. Once she invited him for lunch and as Tom left the room Daisy kissed him on the mouth. Then her daughter came in and Gatsby was surprised because he probably had never really believed in the existence of the child before. After that she said that Gatsby looked so unapproachable and because of their staring at each other, alone in space, Tom realised that he had a rival. As they were going to town Daisy even decided to go in a car with Gatsby to Tom’s surprise.
But as Gatsby started the conversation about them with Tom she wasn’t that sure about it anymore and tried to prevent an arguement. But it was too late and she confirmed her love for Gatsby but as Tom spoke about their time together and his rival’s strange businesses she was drawing further into herself and said that Gatsby wanted too much and that she had loved Tom for some time,too. Finally she asked Tom to bring the argument to an end because she couldn’t stand it any more (p. 128-129).
Afterwards the accident with Myrtle happened and Gatsby decided to take the blame just to protect Daisy (p.136 l.16) although she had turned toward her husband. He even waited in front of her house to be sure that Tom couldn’t bother her.
©Martina Pyko (jan.’01) The next day Gatsby was killed by Mr Wilson.
After his death Daisy and her husband simply went away taking baggage with them.
• For Gatsby Daisy was the love of his life. In his eyes she was perfect, beautiful,wealthy and in demand, simply something special. It is told that the incarnation was complete when he kissed her for the first time (p.108 l.10). He was a young poor man and had always wanted to reach the upper class and strived for prosperity. Daisy already lived such a life when he got to know her. He was amazed by the perfection she radiated and seemed to have around her.
I suppose that he thought if he had made her his woman he would have reached this imagined state which he aimed at.
On the one hand the war destroyed their relationship and made Daisy marry Tom but on the other hand it gave him the possibility to become rich which was the necessary basis for meeting again without an unpleasant or even awkward surprise. To explain that we have to know that Gatsby had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security, he had let her believe that he was a person from much the same social class as herself although he actually wasn’t (p.140 l. 29-p.141 l.1).You can imagine what would have happened if he had come back from the war abroad before she married Tom. There would have been no chance to marry her even just judged from her family’s position because he had not as much as a home, or a place to stay. But the way in which the story really took place, he thought he could succeed afterwards despite of the fact that she was already married. He believed he could repeat (p. 107 l.13-149) the past but he was wrong. Another point was the way he earned the money which firstly helped him to impress Daisy but then was also responsible for the failure of his concept. His desire was to impresss her at all costs and Daisy was curious about money (Even Gatsby confirmed that her voice was full of it (p.116 l.1).) but about legally earned money.
Gatsby failed for the reason that he sacrificed everything for his love. Even after Daisy’s statement towards Tom he took the blame for the deadly accident caused by her instead of moving on from love, which he wasn’t able to do. He got the advice to go away for a while, but he couldn’t possibly leave Daisy until he knew what she was going to do. Because of that clutching at some last hope, he was killed the next day. Analyzing all that from Daisy’s point of view, she was in love with Gatsby almost as much as he but didn’t forget to think in realistic extents (incident before marriage).
During the war time she was feeling the pressure of the world outside and something within her was crying for a decision (p.142 l.19). She couldn’t wait forever and wanted her life shaped immediately. The force of love, of money and of unquestionable practicality took place in her and the marriage with Tom caused struggle and relief but it was secure and that was of great value not only for her family, but also for herself. Her second decision after meeting Gatsby again is not so intelligible in my opinion because nowadays she (and especially me) might have gone another way.
I suppose that her daughter played a important role this time because she didn’t want to destroy the child’s family. The matter of Gatsby’s presumed illegal prosperity was already mentioned and destroyed a possible security, which she as well expected from Gatsby.
The way I see it the difference of their social class and Gatsby’s extremism in love and impressing her combined with Daisy’s high expectations after living with Tom ultimately caused the failure of their deep love.