I enjoy re-reading books. Not only do I get to enjoy old favourites again, I also get to discover new layers and pick up what I missed before. I had an aha moment when I revisited The Great Gatsby recently. I first read The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald when I was in high school. The book is set in America during the roaring twenties just before the inevitable great depression. The plot revolves around Jay Gatsby, a mysterious and rich individual who is known for his fantastically over the top parties. For those who haven't read the book or seen the various movie adaptations, don't read any further if you don't want spoilers!
I love how the book is written and the message it tells us, where Gatsby's unbridled ambition for wealth and social status is ultimately unfulfilling. The characters and their decisions made sense to me except for Daisy. I didn't get her, especially the fact the she chose her cheating husband over the man she loved. The explanation that she was shallow and careless didn't make sense to me either. Even if we accept that she is a shallow, selfish, and a careless person, would it not be in her best interest to be with the man she loves?
This time with after getting reacquainted with The Great Gatsby as a minimalist I come to understand her character a bit more than before. Daisy is not thoughtless, she is miserable and she knows why. Daisy is a woman of her time and is shaped by the people and the society that surrounds her. However, she knows there is something wrong with it, but she decides to go along with it which makes her unhappy and conflicted. Also, she is shallow because she works hard at it, so she can ignore the unsavoury aspects of her life. If she questioned her life a bit deeper, she probably won't be able to stand the life that she leads. Daisy feels sorry for her daughter too, and hopes her daughter will be a "beautiful little fool" too.
Daisy cries when Gatsby is showing off his expensive English shirts. Could it be that she is crying not because she is impressed by his wealth, or burdened with guilt (maybe she is), but because she sees Gatsby as who he truly is. Gatsby idolised Daisy not only because she was young and beautiful, but also for her wealth and social position. He had created his new life so he could be worthy of her. Gatsby acquired the 'perfect' house and all the trimmings, all he needed now to fulfill his dream was to get the 'perfect' girl, Daisy.
Daisy may have been conflicted when she married Tom, this time she is less so. Gatsby previously was full of hope and love, which overshadowed his intense ambition, and lust for wealth. Now with his dream of being rich fully materialised, he is a crooked businessman. Gatsby has the life he dreamed of for so long, but for Daisy that lifestyle is exactly what she was willing to runaway from five years ago. She choses to stay with Tom, not because he is a better man but because the difference between Tom and Gatsby is so little now. She knew she wouldn't be any more happier with Gatsby than with Tom, so for her there is no point in choosing one over the other. Even though I understand Daisy a bit more, I still can't help it but feel sad. Ah, if only Gatsby was a minimalist, things could have been different!