Study Guide

Unhappiness and Dissatisfaction Quotes in The Great Gatsby

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Chapter 1
Daisy Buchanan

"It'll show you how I've gotten to feel about – things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. 'All right,' I said, 'I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool – that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.' "(1.118)

Daisy pretends that she's happy she's had a girl, but she's not. Girls of any class seem to be the losers in this world (thanks, 1920s!), and Daisy, as you could imagine, isn't psyched about that.

Nick Carraway

Why they came East I don't know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together. This was a permanent move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn't believe it – I had no sight into Daisy's heart, but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game. (1.17)

Tom's problem is that he peaked too early, playing football at Yale. It's hard to be satisfied with a normal life of playing polo and yachting when you've been a gridiron star.

Instead of being the warm center of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe—so I decided to go East and learn the bond business. (1.6)

You'd think that returning from war would make Nick satisfied to live a quiet life with his family—but it doesn't. It just makes him restless and, yep, dissatisfied.

Chapter 4
Nick Carraway

James Gatz – that was really, or at least legally, his name. He had changed it at the age of seventeen and at the specific moment that witnessed the beginning of his career – when he saw Dan Cody's yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior. (4.6)

There's being dissatisfied with your clothes or your haircut, and then there's being dissatisfied with your entire existence. James Gatz is dissatisfied with his whole being, and we're pretty sure this isn't going to end well.

I suppose he'd had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. (4.7)

James Gatz isn't just embarrassed of his parents like a normal teen; he seems to have fantasies of having different parents entirely. Like secretly being a prince—or belonging to a family that owns polo horses?

Chapter 6
Nick Carraway

He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was… (6.132)

Gatsby can't deal with what his life's become, but instead of wanting to change it going forward, he wants to head back to the past. Hint: it doesn't work like that.

Chapter 7
Nick Carraway

Tom talked incessantly, exulting and laughing, but his voice was as remote from Jordan and me as the foreign clamor on the sidewalk or the tumult of the elevated overhead. Human sympathy has its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. (7.308)

Well, Tom seems pretty satisfied with himself—but no one else is. They're all unhappy with what's just happened, but Tom has control of this situation.

Chapter 8
Nick Carraway

"They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together." (8.44-45)

Finally, right before Gatsby dies, Nick realizes that all the people he's been hanging around with are no good. Gee, took you long enough, Nick.

Usually her voice came over the wire as something fresh and cool, as if a divot from a green golf-links had come sailing in at the office window, but this morning it seemed harsh and dry. (8.49-51)

Talk about dissatisfied. Jordan is the queen of discontent, but now she seems really put out. No wonder—things have taken a very sudden turn for the serious. Plus, without Gatsby, who's going to throw the parties?

Chapter 9
Nick Carraway

I couldn't forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made […]. (9.145)

Nick may understand Tom, but he's not happy about it: he's dissatisfied with the way Tom and Daisy are dealing with this tragedy, and it's enough to send him scurrying back West in search of something else to be dissatisfied about.

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