The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Do you think Tom knew Daisy was driving the death car in The Great Gatsby? Why or why not?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One could argue that Tom Buchanan had no idea that Daisy was driving Gatsby's car and was the person responsible for Myrtle's death. Shortly after Tom discovered that Myrtle Wilson was run over by a big yellow car, Nick mentions that Tom slammed on the gas towards home and continued to mumble to himself,

The God Damn coward! . . . He didn’t even stop his car. (Fitzgerald, 151)

Tom's comment clearly indicates that he believes Gatsby is responsible for killing Myrtle. It is also important to note that moments before the accident, Tom told Gatsby to take Daisy home after exposing him as a greedy bootlegger. Tom also despises Gatsby and is a completely selfish individual who lacks perspective and believes that Gatsby was motivated to kill Myrtle as payback for exposing him as a bootlegger. In the final chapter of the novel, Nick runs into Tom Buchanan on Fifth Avenue, and Tom once again reveals that he believes Gatsby ran over Myrtle by telling Nick,

That fellow had it coming to him. He threw dust into your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s but he was a tough one. He ran over Myrtle like you’d run over a dog and never even stopped his car. (Fitzgerald, 191)

In addition to Tom's comments, it is highly unlikely that Daisy would confess her involvement in the accident to her husband. As a shallow, immoral individual, Daisy seems comfortable allowing Gatsby to take the blame for what she did.

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stolperia eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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No, Tom didn't know who was driving the "death car." Because the yellow car belonged to Gatsby, he assumed Gatsby was the driver. "The God damned coward!" he whimpered. "He didn't even stop his car."

This incident only heightened Tom's dislike of and suspicions about Gatsby and his past. Earlier that afternoon, Gatsby and Tom had a confrontation regarding Daisy's future and with whom she would be spending it.

"You don't understand," said Gatsby, with a touch of panic. "You're not going to take care of her any more." "I'm not?" Tom opened his eyes wide and laughted. He could afford to control himself now. "Why's that?" "Daisy's leaving you."  "Nonsense...I've made a little investigation into your affairs-and I'll carry it further tomorrow."

Tom was angry and threatened by Gatsby's presence, by Daisy's betrayal in paying attention to him, by his powerlessness to keep Daisy away from Gatsby, and by his inability to engineer his life so as to be able to spend time with Myrtle whenever he wanted without outside complications. All these conflicting emotions and situations came together along with the speeding car that hit and killed Myrtle. He was too grief-stricken, jealous, and frustrated to think that anyone other than Gatsby had been driving his car that night.

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