And that night and the next day, only as an endless drill
Nick’s allusions to time recall Daisy’s “morbid” question in Chapter 7:
“What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?” cried Daisy, “and the day after that, and the next thirty years?”
Whilst the novel raises issues of social mobility and progression, there is an aching sense that things may never truly change. Fitzgerald juxtaposes the genesis of flapper girls and socially mobile black people with the ultimate non-acceptance of new things among the upper classes. Daisy runs around too much for Tom’s liking and is indeed spiritually crushed and bound to him by the end of the novel. Equally, Gatsby’s new money is never truly enough to make him fit in with the people of East Egg.
Thus, here Nick uses a loose, hopeless time phrase to introduce a sense of despondency and hopelessness into his narrative; no matter how hard one tries to forget the past and move forward, we will be “borne back ceaselessly.” Of course this is less true for the likes of the Buchanans, whose wealth, whilst not enough to buy them happiness, is enough to keep them socially safe, though this only heightens the tragedy and Nick’s consequent bitterness.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Great Gatsby (Chapter IX)” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box