In chapter 7, what comparisons can be made between Wilson and Tom in The Great Gatsby?

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poetrymfa's profile pic

poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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In Chapter Seven of The Great Gatsby, we can clearly see a major similarity in circumstances between Tom Buchanan and George Wilson—namely that both of them are on the verge of completely losing their wives to passionate affairs. In Wilson's case, his wife, Myrtle, is involved in a secret and torrential relationship with Tom. Tom's wife, Daisy, is, in turn, privately seeing Jay Gatsby.

Both men remain oblivious to these indiscretions until the tension can no longer be contained. In Tom's case, he discovers Daisy's affair when she, Tom, and Jay spend an oppressively hot afternoon at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Tom confronts Daisy, and this encounter results in Daisy recklessly driving off in Jay's car—with which she hits Myrtle, killing her. Myrtle had run out of the house in the first place because Wilson had just confronted her about his suspicions of her affair. In both cases, these husband figures' desperation and aggression ultimately results in a chaotic response from their wives—both of which end in tragic circumstances.

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jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Both Wilson and Tom have wives that are being unfaithful to them. They either don’t suspect their wives or they are ignoring evidence that is overwhelming. Regardless they should have a sense of it, for their wives are barely making an effort to hide it. This reinforces the fallacy in Tom’s belief of superiority. He is just as lost and foolish as a man that he feels is barely aware, “…that he is alive.”

Both men use cruel, brute force in confronting the situation. Wilson chases his wife to her own death and Tom arrogantly forces the mistress and lover ride home in the same car. The plots then become intertwined.

Earlier in the novel, Nick noticed that these arrogant, wealthy, careless people would create messes and have other clean up the mess. This is what Wilson does for Tom. Tom doesn’t have to exact revenge on Wilson. His hands stay clean as he gets Wilson to do it for him.