so much as a shiver

p. 81:

Next day at five o’clock she married Tom Buchanan without so much as a shiver and started off on a three months’ trip to the South Seas.

Daisy has quite a night before her wedding. She sucks down a bottle of sauterne, tosses the groom’s wedding present in the trash – a string of pearls worth over four million dollars* – and by early evening she’s swanning about her room wailing ‘Tell ’em all Daisy’s change’ her mine. Say “Daisy’s change’ her mine!”‘ The bridesmaids and matrons douse her in a cold bath, where she clutches a final forlorn letter until it comes to pieces like snow. Half an hour later ‘the pearls were around her neck and the incident was over.

I wonder how she thinks of that night, the next day or the next year or five or twenty years down the line. If she recalls it in old age, on her deathbed, who does she think was making that scene? Does she think it was her, but not in her right mind? Does she think it wasn’t her, but a dramatic release of emotion as a final performance on closing night? Does she think it was her true self, revealed through alcohol, only to be buried forever by the necessity of sobriety? Did she ever love Jay Gatsby, and if she did, was this the night she drove a stake in the heart of that love without so much as a shiver?

Daisy is a mystery. She may be a coward for never having the bravery to suffer the consequences of her passions, or a vampire sucking the burning blood of hopeless suitors, or an involuntary canvas to dreams bigger than her meager borders … or just another confused young woman, trying on persona as the seasons turn and her beauty fades.

*the pearls are valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars in 1919, which is a little over $4.5 million in 2012 dollars.

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