to be a girl

From The Great Gatsby, Daisy delivers one of my favorite quotations:

“Listen Nick; let me tell you what I said when she was born. Would you like to hear?”
“Very much.”
“It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about–things. Well, she 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.”

It’s a shame Fitzgerald isn’t studied more in English departments. There seems to be more interest in his wife Zelda and their chaotic marriage. Both of them were Gatsbians: beautiful, smart, vain and fascinating. Perhaps this hedonism and wrecklessness mixes poorly in the academy; Fitzgerald chronicled the glittering rush of capitalism, how it enables one minute and eviscerates the next, and in this very liberal city, that material worship doesn’t seem right. What do you do? Shrug?

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