Living in the Past - The Great Gatsby In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Daisy and Gatsby, two focal characters of the novel, are continually troubled by time. The reoccurring theme in the novel allows the reader to fully understand the drive and motivation of the main character, Gatsby. When Nick, the omniscient narrator of the novel, tells Gatsby that you can't repeat the past, Gatsby replies, "'Can't repeat the past?' He said incredulously, 'Why of course you can!'"(Fitzgerald, 116). Gatsby has dedicated his entire life to recapturing a golden, perfect past with Daisy. Gatsby believes that money can recreate the past and is described as "overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves."(157), but Gatsby mixes up "youth and mystery" with history; he thinks a single glorious month of love with Daisy can compete with the years and experiences she has shared with her husband, Tom. Gatsby is still living in the past and trying to recreate the feeling of what they once had, however briefly. Simultaneously, Daisy has evolved and become content in her relationship with Tom. The true tragedy presented by F. Scott Fitzgerald is that Gatsby, living in the past, is unable to establish a future with Daisy. In chasing a future with Daisy based solely on a moment, his dream is virtually unattainable. In order to fully understand how the past influences Gatsby's motivations leading up to his death, we must first be aware of his earlier encounters with Daisy.
Nick is first made acquainted with the shared past of Gatsby and Daisy in chapter four. The first revelation of their past is revealed by Jordan, his temporary lover when she states:
The officer looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at sometime, and because it seemed romantic to me, I have remembered the incident ever since. His name was Jay Gatsby, and I didn't lay eyes on him again for over four years even after I'd met him on Long Island, I didn't realize it was the same man. (80) Daisy was genuinely infatuated with Gatsby. While it's unclear that Daisy would have remained with Gatsby had he not gone off to war, she may have been able to ignore his lack of money and status. Fitzgerald provides insight to this as Jordan talks about Daisy with Nick.
How her mother had found her packing her bag one winter night to go to New York and say good-bye to a soldier who was going overseas. She was effectually prevented, but she wasn't on speaking terms with her family for several weeks. After that, she didn't play around with the soldiers anymore, but only with a few flat-footed, short-sighted young men in town who couldn't get into the army at all. (80) Daisy clearly shows an eagerness to see Gatsby off for war. Due to the parent's refusal to let Daisy meet with Gatsby, one might assume that the decision was based on Gatsby's lower social standing. Daisy may have been able to work through the issue of cl...