“I did, old sport,” he said automatically

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter V) on Rap Genius

Meaning

The choice adverb ‘automatically’ reveals an awful lot about Gatsby’s motivation. He is fuelled by forces beyond his control and cannot master his attraction to the wealth and status represented by Daisy. His actions are almost non-deliberate, which invites our sympathy for his folly.

This idea is evidenced throughout the novel. Upon being reunited with Daisy, he is described as breaking down ‘like an over-wound clock’, iterating the idea that he is lacking control.

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