Why Does Wilson Believe That Gatsby Killed Myrtle

Why does Wilson believe that Gatsby killed Myrtle in The Great Gatsby?

Wilson believes that Gatsby killed Myrtle because Tom tells him so. Tom quickly realizes that suspicion may fall on him because earlier he had been seen driving the car, and he was also involved in an affair with Myrtle. Tom isn't willing to face any consequences for his involvement and also doesn't want Wilson to realize Daisy was driving the car that night. Therefore, he lies and tells Wilson that Gatsby was driving.

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George Wilson believes Jay Gatsby killed Myrtle because Tom Buchanan told him Gatsby was the person driving the yellow car. Before the tragic accident, Tom Buchanan drives Gatsby's yellow Rolls-Royce into the city with Jordan Baker and Nick Carraway. When they stop for gas, Tom tells Wilson the yellow vehicle belongs to him but instantly recants his story following Myrtle's death. Once Tom arrives on the scene of the accident, a witness mentions that the car was yellow and Tom flatly denies owning the vehicle. Tom does not want to be implicated in the murder and eventually places the blame on Gatsby. Tom is aware that George recently discovered his wife was having an affair and does not want him to know the truth about his relationship with Myrtle. If George discovered Tom was Myrtle's lover, he would suspect he played a role in her death.

The following day, George Wilson arrives at the Buchanan home in a deranged state, holding a revolver. Confronted by a mentally unstable, dangerous individual, Tom instantly blames Gatsby for Myrtle's death and George proceeds to travel to the West Egg, where he murders Gatsby and commits suicide. Later on, Nick runs into Tom in New York City and he admits that he told George that Gatsby was responsible for his wife's death. Although Daisy is actually responsible for Myrtle's death, Tom sincerely believes that Gatsby ran her over. Nick does not even tell Tom the truth and simply shakes his hand before walking away.

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Tom makes certain that Wilson believes Gatsby was driving the car which killed Myrtle.

Earlier, Wilson had admired Gatsby's yellow Rolls-Royce when Tom stopped by his station for gas. Wilson was already upset, telling Tom that he had to get away and head west with his wife. He vaguely alluded to having learned some information that made a quick departure necessary.

Daisy is actually driving Gatsby's car home when it hits Myrtle. Daisy flees the scene, and Tom and Nick find the aftermath moments later. When Tom realizes who has been killed and a witness verifies that a yellow car had hit Myrtle, he quickly realizes that he needs to protect himself. He pointedly tells Wilson, "That yellow car I was driving this afternoon wasn’t mine—do you hear? I haven’t seen it all afternoon." Particularly because of his own involvement with Myrtle, Tom doesn't want to be associated with the car which killed her.

In his grief, Wilson is determined to find out who the driver of that car was. He recalls how his wife had come home from the city with bruises she couldn't explain about three months prior and suddenly announces that he knows how he can find out who owns the car.

Wilson shows up at Tom's door; Tom and Daisy are already packing for a getaway. Wilson demands that Tom speak with him; his hand rests on a pistol. It doesn't take much convincing for Tom to tell Wilson that Gatsby had killed Myrtle; by doing so, he saves himself from further suspicion and saves his wife from criminal charges.

As Tom later relates these details to Nick, he says that Gatsby "had it coming to him," anyway. Although Nick knows the truth, Tom repeats his lie:

He ran over Myrtle like you’d run over a dog and never even stopped his car.

Nick realizes that trying to reason with Tom is like trying to reason with a child. Tom and Daisy are "careless people" who leave a path of destruction behind them.

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There are two important points when considering your question:  what Wilson observes before the event and what Wilson is told after the event.

First let's explore what Wilson observes.  Quite simply, Wilson observes Tom requesting gas for the car he is driving.  Unfortunately for Gatsby, Tom is driving Gatsby's car.  I find it ironic that it isn't Tom that actually wants to stop for gas, ... it's Jordan!

"We've got enough to get us to town," said Tom.

"But there's a garage right there," objected Jordan.  "I don't want to get stalled in this baking heat."

Tom does, however, make the mistake of telling Wilson that the yellow car is Tom's by saying, "How do you like this one? ... I bought it last week."  I think these things cement that there is no premeditated plan to kill Gatsby on Tom's part (in addition to the fact that, of course, he doesn't want Myrtle killed).  At least there's no plan at this point.

When Myrtle is killed and someone sees it's a yellow car that killed her, Tom gets a bit nervous (and puts himself above his grief for a while to appease his selfishness).  He grabs Wilson and tells him that the yellow car wasn't Tom's.  Later, Nick reports that Wilson "announced that he had a way of finding out  who the yellow car belonged to."  Tom said Wilson "was crazy enough to kill me if I hadn't told him who owned the car."

I wouldn't say that Tom "convinced" Wilson. We aren't told that and can't prove that. ...  However, we can safely assume that Tom let Wilson's grief-stricken mind do the work for him.  And you know what?  Tom was happy to do so!

In short, I think it is safe to say that Wilson thinks that Gatsby killed Myrtle because it was Gatsby that owned the yellow "death car," and it was Tom who was glad to share the information.

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