The Incorportation of Pammy in The Great Gatsby
Authors tend to choose their characters with a motive, even if it is ulterior. F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is character-driven story rather than an action-driven one. Even though a few main characters dominate the story, minor characters that only appear once or twice during the novel, like Daisy’s daughter, have a purpose and effect on the plot as well. Fitzgerald decides to include Daisy’s daughter, Pammy, to highlight Daisy’s monotonous relationship with Tom and how she is tied to him. Fitzgerald also uses Pammy to shed light on Daisy’s views of women’s role in the Twenties.
Fitzgerald first introduces Pammy to hint that Daisy and Tom’s relationship is customary and repetitive. In the first chapter, we are introduced to Daisy, Nick’s cousin. Daisy claims she doesn’t really know him: “‘We don’t know each other very well, Nick,’ she said suddenly. ‘Even if we are cousins. You didn’t come to my wedding” (Fitzgerald 20).
Nick, in effort to catch up with her and continue their conversation, “waited but she didn’t say any more, and after a moment [he] returned rather feebly to the subject of her daughter” to which Daisy responds nonchalantly that, “‘[Daisy] suppose[s] she talks, and—eats, and everything’ (Fitzgerald 20). Daisy remains unenthusiastic and has nothing else to say about her daughter, other than she does the basic human functions. Pammy, the product of Daisy and Tom’s relationship, reflects the state of their marriage during the years Nick was absent. When Daisy describes her daughter in a routine and mundane manner, she is describing their relationship too. Tom and Daisy do the ordinary things married couples do, but we see no emotional attachment in Daisy’s tone, or any other kind of passion. Fitzgerald uses Pammy to illustrate Daisy’s disinterest in her husband and their relationship.
Fitzgerald also chooses to include Pammy to expose Daisy’s opinion on women’s roles during the time period. The same night Nick and Daisy are catching up, Daisy decides to tell Nick the story of the night Pammy was born. She does this because she claims the story will show him, “how [she’s] gotten to feel about—things” (Fitzgerald 20). She tells Nick that the day she was born, “‘[She] 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 [her] it was a girl, and so [she] turned [her] head away and wept (Fitzgerald 20).
Daisy was deeply upset that her baby was a girl. She also told the nurse that, “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in understands this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald 20). Pammy’s birth reveals Daisy’s opinion on how girls have to behave and what their role is in society. When Daisy says that she hopes her daughter will be a “beautiful little fool” because that’s the best a girl can be, she reveals that during the Twenties, the girls that led a comfortable life were those who acted ignorantly, obliviously and blindly, a behavior often seen in Daisy herself. This conversation also revealed that Daisy is smarter than what she appears, because she is aware of her behavior, and suggests that she wears a facade around others to appear a fool. Pammy is also included by Fitzgerald to highlight Daisy’s commitment to Tom.
Near the end of the book, Daisy, Gatsby and Tom are gathered together the Buchanan’s living room. Gatsby and Daisy were romantically involved by then, and even though Tom didn’t know, he suspected it. When the nanny brings Pammy over to Daisy, Daisy inquires, “‘how do you like mother’s friends?’ Daisy turned her around so that she faced Gatsby. ‘Do you think they’re pretty?'”(Fitzgerald 124). While Daisy sought Pammy’s approval of Gatsby, Pammy reacts by asking, “‘Where’s Daddy?”(Fitzgerald 124), she calls out for the male figure that is closer to her. Daisy’s reaction is to convince Gatsby that “‘She doesn’t look like her father,’ explained Daisy.
‘She looks like me. She’s got my hair and shape of the face'” (Fitzgerald 125). In this chapter, Fitzgerald uses Pammy to remind the characters and the reader that despite Daisy’s infatuation with Gatsby, she is tied to Tom both economically and by her daughter. Daisy tries to convince Gatsby that she and Tom aren’t as entangled, by diminishing Tom’s role in the family as a father and husband by saying that “[Pammy] doesn’t look like her father”. Pammy is the physical proof that it wouldn’t be easy for Daisy to leave Tom for Gatsby.
Daisy is unable to leave Tom behind because they share a huge responsibility, which is something Gatsby might not understand since he doesn’t have any children. Fitzgerald uses Pammy to help the readers comprehend why Daisy can’t simply leave Tom to be with Gatsby. In conclusion, F.Scott Fitzgerald strategically includes Pammy to explore the themes and relationships of the book. Pammy serves as an opening to showcase Daisy’sviews on women’s role during the Twenties. She also helps the author show Daisy’s dull relationship with Tom implicitly, even early in the book.
Perhaps Fitzgerald’s inclusion of Pammy suggests that children mirror their environment and the people around them.