“I told you what’s been going on,” said Gatsby. “Going on for five years—and you didn’t know.”

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

Meaning

This is where we start to see that Gatsby is detached from reality. He assumes that the last 5 years was just one string of unbroken love between him and Daisy, even though he had only actually seen her for a fraction of that time.

When Tom finds out that the actual affair didn’t last 5 years, only a few months, he isn’t that phased by the news. That’s because he doesn’t view the 5 year period the same way as Gatsby. Gatsby sees it all as a build up to the moment where he and Daisy got back together. But Tom only sees more than 4 years of successful marriage until “the man with the pink suit” came into the picture for a short time.

Tom is able to see this short affair with Gatsby as a bump in the road of their marriage, especially since he had been unfaithful to Daisy as well. He is willing to forgive her since he loves her and wants to stay with her. But Gatsby will tolerate nothing less than perfection when it comes to Daisy, and anything less will crush him.

This goes to show that even though Gatsby really is “the most hopeful man” Nick had ever met and Daisy means more to him than she does to Tom, Gatsby’s expectations of Daisy will put her under unbelievable pressure and probably overwhelm her. Tom on the other hand is willing to forgive her imperfections to make their marriage work.


Most readers are sympathetic towards Gatsby’s incredible devotion towards Daisy, no matter how delusional it can seem at times. Everyone is going to root for the guy that would give anything to be with his love over the abusive and unfaithful husband. But by choosing Gatsby over Tom she would essentially be wrecking her marriage and future stability for a man with incredible expectations that she would never be able to live up to. So while everyone would love to see the story book ending, you have to realize how unrealistic that would be.

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