What are Jordan's and the Buchanans' reactions to Myrtle's death in The Great Gatsby?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fitzgerald offers Tom's reaction first in Chapter 7.  When Tom hears from the policeman that Myrtle is dead, he is dazed and can repeat only what the police officer said.  However, just seconds later when an eye witness states that Myrtle was hit by a yellow car, Tom's reaction switches to anger and self-preservation.  He immediately approaches the grieving George and explains that the yellow car he was driving earlier is not his. As Tom drives away from the scene, he does cry and assumes that Gatsby hit Myrtle without even stopping.

Daisy: The readers only knows Daisy's reaction from what Gatsby relates to Nick.  Gatsby asks Nick if Myrtle was killed, and when Nick responds that she was, Gatsby states,

"I thought so; I told Daisy I thought so. It's better that the shock should come all at once" (144).

After hitting Daisy hits Myrtle, she cannot drive, and Gatsby takes over to drive her home.  So, Daisy is obviously horrified by what she did but only briefly.  For, that very night she sits with Tom, and they seem to agree how to handle the situation without either of them being implicated or affected by her action.

Jordan: Jordan has no reaction to Myrtle's death.  It seems like just another event in her party lifestyle.  When Nick, Jordan, and Tom reach the Buchanan home, Jordan waits with Nick, doesn't mention the accident, and becomes sulky when Nick doesn't want to do anything with her.  She thinks the night is still young, and has no concern about the grieving George Wilson, his dead wife, or Gatsby.

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The Great Gatsby

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