Jordan Baker in Great Gatsby
During the Roaring Twenties, the role of women in society took on new forms and pushed unprecedented boundaries. Women were more independent as well as promiscuous. Jordan Baker’s maleness in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby depicts the changing woman in the 1920’s. Fitzgerald blends the strong individualistic woman of the twenties with her feminine counterpart through his character, Jordan Baker. Jordan, an unmarried professional golf player, is assertively independent and seems rather masculine in contrast to Daisy Buchanan, her “girlie,” character foil.
As the novel continues, Jordan’s “maleness” fuses with the conventional womanly characteristics of her time. The first time Nick meets Jordan, she sits “completely motionless with her chin raised a little. ” (p. 8) She is not at all fazed by Nick’s presence. She remains solely interested in golf and does not participate in the other conversations around her. The male-like behavior in this scene contrasts with Daisy’s lively, energetic, and stereotypically feminine manner. Nick notes, “Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lean toward her.
This seductive feminine quality contrasts to Jordan’s more masculine refrain, when Nick observes that Tom and Jordan have several feet of twilight between them. The first references to Jordan in this chapter juxtapose Daisy’s feminine etiquette with Jordan’s masculinity that continues throughout the novel. Later in this chapter, Nick describes Jordan as “A slender small breasted girl, with an erect carriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet. ” This manly physical description highlights Jordan’s confidence and independence.
She is not dependent upon the will of another. Later, Daisy “turned to Miss Baker for confirmation” (14). Daisy needs a male figure to validate her while Jordan makes her own decisions. Daisy later reads to Tom from The Saturday Evening Post. This gender role reversal again highlights Jordan’s independence and maleness. While at the Buchanan household, Nick notes Jordan’s “hardy skepticism” (page 15), which again contrasts to Daisy’s stereotypical femininity and optimistic outlook. Daisy believes only what she is told to believe and never questions it.
When asking Nick about a rumor that he was engaged, she states, “We heard it from three people, so it must be true” (19). Unlike Daisy, Jordan is skeptical of others and assesses matters for herself. Nick becomes infatuated with Jordan’s maleness. Even though she cheated in the golf game that got her famous, Nick becomes involved in a world of materialism and superficiality, sparking his interest in Jordan. Nick notices that “She wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes. ” (Page 50) He accounts the “faint mustache of perspiration that appeared on her upper lip,” when she plays tennis. p. 57)
Nick is flattered to go places with her because she is a golf champion and everyone knows her name. (Page 57) This again highlights the gender role reversal. Traditionally in the 1920’s, women clung to men whom were rich and high in status, as Daisy does with both Gatsby and Tom. Nick’s interest in Jordan is based on her strong man-like independence and success. This is one of the last points in which Jordan is seen as the independent manly character. As the novel progresses, Jordan morphs into a Daisy type of woman.
On page 117, Daisy’s child Pammy takes note that “Aunt Jordan’s got on a white dress too,” marking Jordan’s gradual transition into femininity. On page 118 Daisy complains of the heat. This is a direct comparison to Jordan when she complains that she does not “want to get stalled in this baking heat. ” (page 122) Throughout the rest of the novel, Jordan takes on stereotypical female qualities of her time. With this newfound feminism, Jordan grows increasingly dependent on Nick. She frequently asks to meet up with him and shows displays more affection towards him.
When Jordan asks Nick to come inside, she puts her hand on his arm. Nick ultimately becomes sick of Jordan. Though he was once attracted to her masculinity and independence, Nick loses interest in Jordan once these qualities begin to disappear and the traditional gender roles reappear. Jordan symbolizes the confidence and independence ingrained in the “New Woman” of the 1920’s. Daisy on the other hand represents the promiscuity and wildness of women during the Roaring Twenties. Jordan’s shift from confident masculine independent towards feminine companion shows the fusion of both roles of women during this time period.