The Great Gatsby
Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby's face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart. (5.152)
Gatsby's vision of Daisy is way better than the real Daisy. Maybe this is one reason she ends up with Tom—she knows she can't ever live up to who she was for him. (Or maybe it was just the $350K necklace.)
He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you." After she had obliterated four years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken. One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house—just as if it were five years ago. (6.125)
Gatsby actually wants Daisy to erase the past, like in some sort of mediocre sci-fi movie. Sorry: this is real life, and it can't be done. Everyone has to live with the consequences of their past, whether they want to or not.
"Oh, you want too much!" she cried to Gatsby. "I love you now – isn't that enough? I can't help what's past." She began to sob helplessly. "I did love him once – but I loved you too." (7.261)
Life doesn't come with take-backs or do-overs, and for all that Daisy seems a little dim, she gets it—and Gatsby doesn't. Daisy's never going to be that golden-white girl again.