Importance Of Myrtle In The Great Gatsby

1199 words - 5 pages

    Many of the occurrences in The Great Gatsby produced far-reaching effects for several of the characters.  Of these occurrences, one of the most influential and important incidents was the death of Myrtle Wilson.  While her life and death greatly affected the lives of all of the main and supporting characters, her death had a very significant effect on the lives of Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby.

            Tom knew Myrtle better than any of the main characters.  He had met her on a train headed for New York.  When the train reached the city, she went with him in a taxi, and their affair began.  Tom never made much of an effort to keep their relationship secret.  In fact, he almost paraded her around in the presence of his acquaintances.  They made frequent trips into New York so that they could be together.  Myrtle was Tom's escape from his own life in East Egg.  While Daisy provided him with a wealthy, acceptable social image, she was not much more to him than a mere possession.  His affair with Myrtle offered him a chance to defy his social expectations.  Their relationship was important to him because of this opportunity to escape.  When Myrtle died, it shook him deeply, especially because he believed Gatsby had been driving the yellow car.  After leaving George Wilson's garage the night of the accident, he managed to drive slowly until he and Nick were out of sight.  Then he slammed his foot down on the accelerator, driving much faster.  He began quietly sobbing, privately mourning her death.  He immediately blamed Gatsby for bringing their relationship to an abrupt halt.  "That God damned coward!" he cried.  "He didn't even stop his car."  His feelings of anger and hurt were greatly intensified by the day spent in New York.  He and Gatsby had argued over their relationships with Daisy, and Gatsby had asked Daisy to leave Tom.  She, of course, could not do this because it was simply too much to ask of her.  Tom believed he had won their disagreement, but the day only grew worse.  He may have won Daisy, but he had lost Myrtle forever.  He completely blamed Gatsby, and his feelings of dislike only grew stronger.  That night, he talked with Daisy until early in the morning.  In the end, Myrtle's death may have had such an effect on Tom that he finally turned to his own wife for everything he had searched for outside of the marriage.  He had lost Myrtle, and he had come very close to losing Daisy that same day.  These events may have encouraged him not to take his wife for granted any longer.

            While Daisy did not know Myrtle personally, there is a very good possibility that she knew Tom was having an affair with her.  She was well aware of Tom's past behavior, and she made no attempts to deny it.  She simply accepted it because she had no other choice.  After spending the day in New York with the others, she was obviously upset and tense.  The day had taxed her to the limit.  Gatsby had demanded too much of her, and she just was...

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