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The Truth about Daisy

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Sallie Bingham in the article “The Truth about Growing up Rich” describes the society that contains her power and role as a woman. While her article was published in June of 1986 it might as well been the basis for Scott Fitzgerald’s character, Daisy Buchanan, in The Great Gatsby. Bingham says that women are held captive in the upper crust of society. Their visibility is reduced as they are hidden behind the large institutions of their fathers and husbands. Daisy and Tom’s marriage is a perfect example of a woman, not being able to give up her luxurious life and position and settling for a situation that subjugates her.

Daisy is often portrayed as a frail nonbeing sitting in the corner of a room in a paisley white dress. Initially one might default to the cliché of white symbolizing purity and innocence. Upon closer examination, there is no place for innocence in The Great Gatsby and no reason for it. In the setting of the roaring 20s each character boasts a life of lavish sin. Daisy is draped in white because white is the absence of all color the same way that she is the absence of all of the consequences of her actions. She was never taught responsibility or maturity because everything has always been taken care for her.

Bingham would describe Daisy as a somewhat typical rich woman. She would also say that it is somewhat of an anomaly that she is aware of her precarious situation. She knows that her power and abilities in life are limited by her social status when she says that she would wish for her daughter to be “… a beautiful fool…” it must not only be very discouraging but also hurtful to realize that the system and situation the keeps Daisy and all rich women well dressed and well positioned in society is also a system that subjugates them. Bingham would however disagree with the wish to not be aware of this situation. She insists that women empower themselves and always try to resist this system of domination because to be complicit is to continue and further the cycle. Diasy would become the “pale model’ for her daughter and would offer “… little color or originality to the small girl.”

The advice she would give to Daisy would be that instead of remaining blissfully ignorant of her husband’s affair, her daughter’s life, and the
world that surrounds her; she should use her position and money “to benefit poor women rather than the.. elitist cultural organizations favored by their fathers…” Daisy is not the only lonely rich woman in East Egg, Bingham describes this domination of women as a blanket that suffocates every high class woman in every well established family. She would say that they could bring their “… sense of helplessness and [their] alienation from the male establishment with all [their] sisters. If all these women came together and use their resources to help others their position would not be so invisible and their domination significantly reduced.

Bingham describes the ideal woman to be strong and not afraid to use her social position for the benefit of those disadvantaged by the same system that has provided for them. They should be visible and perceived by the world and her family as capable and not dependant on them. She should be able to control her own affairs, be self-sufficient, and affect positive change. These ideal women would run for political office and lobby and educate other women to put an end to these “self-perpetuating prejudices.”

My view of Daisy has not exactly changed; she is still a very ignorant and despicable person who only thinks about her situation in life and not about how her actions would affect others. Her personality is very shallow and one-dimensional because she seeks the comfort and social status that she has been provided with her entire life. Despite the fact that she is aware that her position in society is very limited she chooses to ignore any possibility of breaking out of this mold. She doesn’t exactly seem aware that her actions only entrench the system that makes her so unhappy and lonely. The article has only made me realize that not all of the blame can be placed on her; she is as much a product of her own environment as she is a part of it.

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