In The Great Gatsby, why does Gatsby take the blame for the accident?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Seven of The Great Gatsby, Nick relates that he leaves Gatsby who keeps vigil under Daisy's window where Nick observes that Daisy and Tom share a "natural intimacy" that suggests "they were conspiring together." Jay Gatsby remains in the yard, after turning from Nick "as though [his] presence marred the sacredness of the vigil." There, he stands in the "moonlight--watching over nothing." Then, in the following chapter,

Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.

But, Gatsby clutches "at some last hope" as he nobly takes the blame for Daisy's "hot struggles with the poor" in the murder of Mrytle Wilson. For, he has "committed himself to the following of a grail....He felt married to her, that was all." Later, he tells Nick that he does not believe that Daisy has ever loved Tom:

Of course she might have loved him, just for a minute, when they were first married--and loved me more even then, do you see?"

To this, Nick remarks,

What could you make of that, except to suspect some intensity in his conception of the affair that couldn't be measured?

Convinced that he must act chivalrously and that Daisy loves him more than she loves Tom, Gatsby remains in the yard under Daisy's window, "suspect[ing] some intensity" from her that will reunite them. He does not worry about himself, thinking only of Daisy, the grail he seeks.

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