Prompt #6 from Nov. 25, 2016: Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby says she wishes her daughter will be a “beautiful little fool.” Is Daisy herself nothing but a fool or is she trapped by her society?
Oh man, making me reach back to high school to remember The Great Gatsby. I don’t remember much about the book besides parties, lots of confusing relationships, a car accident and Gatsby dies.
I didn’t even remember that Daisy has a daughter.
But in reading up for this post my memory was jogged and I remembered the themes of gender and place in society in the book. It seems that you can either see Daisy as a fool herself or as an intelligent woman trapped in a society that doesn’t give her agency.
There have been all sorts of scholarly articles written about Daisy, and I cant say I remember the book well enough to give an informed option.
However, I can tell you a story about an intelligent woman who struggled being trapped by society, my great-grandmother. My maternal great-grandmother had two college degrees and even served as a high school principal. She was a highly educated woman, which lead to her later mental breakdown.
She had to give up her career as an educator when she got married, because at the time single women were the ones thought fit to teach. Then the Great Depression and the bank collapse happened. My great-grandparents lost a great deal of money simply because it had been in the bank. When they couldn’t pay back some loans, the government came and took their herd of prize Ayrshire cows.
My grandmother remembers the men coming and taking every single cow, not even leaving them one milking cow for the family. They added them to a large group made up of other neighbors herds, mixing the prize dairy cows in with all the other cattle. Then the men herded them down the road to a large pit where they shot them all.
Their family was plunged into poverty. My great-grandmother was devastated and had a mental breakdown.
The tragedy is amplified by the fact that my great-grandmother could not contribute to the families wellbeing by working in her chosen profession. I am sure she felt helpless. I wonder if she questioned why she had even bothered with education.
For so long intelligent women were trapped by a society that couldn’t see their worth. Perhaps Daisy was among them.