What excuse did Tom use to avoid marrying Myrtle in "The Great Gatsby"?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom apparently told Myrtle that Daisy was Catholic. In chapter 2, when Nick is at the apartment that Tom keeps for his liasons with Myrtle, Catherine, Myrtle's sister, tells Nick that Daisy's religion is what keeps Myrtle and Tom apart: "It's really his wife that's keeping them apart.  She's a Catholic and they don't believe in divorce."  Nick's narration goes on to tell us that Daisy was not a Catholic and that he was "...a little shocked at the elaborateness of the lie."  The lie is a thin one and one that would be easily checked.  That Tom feels no need to compose a more believeable lie tells us of his lack of respect for Myrtle.  Tom is a selfish, self-concerned man and a snob.  He would never leave Daisy for Myrtle, no matter what the circumstances because Myrtle is far below his class standards.  She's OK for an affair because her class does not mix with Daisy's class of people and it's unlikely then that there would be any awkward meetings or information exchange.  Tom has no regard for Myrtle other than what she can do for him which is flatter his ego and satisfy his sexual needs.  Myrtle, on the other hand, though every bit as shallow as Tom, is naive.  She apparently thinks that Tom would actually marry her if the opportunity presented itself. She is willing to deceive her husband and have an affair but she does it out of a desire to move up in social class.  Tom has affairs because he can.  This fits the themes of culture clash and moral corruption.

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The Great Gatsby

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