Who is Responsible for Gatsby’s Death?

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In the novel, The Great Gatsby, chapters seven, eight, and nine are the climax, falling action, and the resolutions of the novel, featuring the events before, during, and after Jay Gatsby’s death. Like how Gatsby’s dream of happiness with Daisy Buchanan represents the American Dream chase, Gatsby’s death also represents the destination of chasing the American dream while blinded by wealth amassing. Although George Wilson pulls the trigger to shoot Jay Gatsby, the victim’s death is not solely George Wilson’s fault. Gatsby’s death is a chain reaction involving different parties. However, Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, George Wilson, and Daisy Buchanan are the key characters responsible for Gatsby’s death’s causal nexus. Fitzgerald creatively showcases how the collapse of the unattainability of the American Dream has everyone in America to blame.

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Jay Gatsby

Jay Gatsby’s death fits the stipulation of the victim precipitation theory of victimization through victim facilitation and provocation. According to the victim precipitation theory, some victims contribute to the criminal events that happen to them by provoking or unconsciously facilitating the victimization (Petherick, 2017). For Gatsby, he embodies both facilitating and provoking his death, making him a key player in the chain reaction that caused his death. First, Gatsby provokes his victimizations by the re-kindling of a false hope of happiness that had no chance of happening. That is because Gatsby had a wrongly acquired social status, a fact that Tom Buchanan used to stir doubt in Daisy’s view of Gatsby. His desire to re-kindle a past life with Daisy is the genesis of the chain reaction that ended his life.

As a victimization facilitator, Gatsby takes the blame on Daisy’s behalf for Myrtle’s killing, facilitating his death, yet he was not the one driving the car when Myrtle was run over (Lasky, 2019). If Gatsby could accept that the hope of dating or marrying Daisy was false and, like the American dream, unattainable for some individuals, he could have concentrated on finding love elsewhere rather than chasing death unknowingly. In brief, Gatsby is a crucial accomplice in the tragic death he met.

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Daisy Buchanan

Another accountable soul is Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby’s mistress and the reason for his career and lifestyle choice. Daisy is a wealthy lady from the affluent West Egg estate where other highly social positioned individuals lived. Her marriage to Tom Buchanan, whom she does not love, is a social status stance that denies Gatsby Daisy’s love. Before Gatsby went to war, he and Daisy promised to wait until he got back for them to get together (Scott, 2017). However, Daisy’s impatience and marriage to Tom Buchanan side-lined Gatsby, leaving him with wealth amassing as the only hope of being worthy of Daisy’s love.

Another reason for making Daisy accountable is her choice to keep quiet and allow Gatsby to take the blame for killing Myrtle. She neither tells her husband nor George Wilson of the truth, which she does consciously. Her silence is a significant cause of Gatsby’s death, for if she loved him as she claimed, she could have taken responsibility for her actions. In brief, Daisy has a direct and indirect hand in Gatsby’s death by betraying Gatsby and consciously allowing Gatsby to take the fault for her mistake.

Tom Buchanan

Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan, is also a domino in the fall of Jay Gatsby in two significant ways. First, his unfaithfulness to Daisy with Myrtle plays a vital role in the killing of Gatsby. George Wilson, Myrtle’s husband, aimed to kill his wife’s lover, who in this case was Tom Buchanan. If he was a faithful and decent man as his social status posed, then George Wilson could not have any reason to shoot anyone (Scott, 2017). George Wilson held his wife hostage due to her suspected affair with Tom Buchanan, and her escape put Tom Buchanan in danger. Gorge’s assumption that the one driving the car must have been Myrtle’s lover automatically makes Tom the potential victim.

Secondly, Tom also has a hand in Gatsby’s death through his false testimony to George Wilson, knowing that he was putting Gatsby in a risky position. Tom knew that the car that ran Myrtle over was Gatsby’s, but he was not Myrtle’s love. By giving the false information to George, yet Tom knew he was Myrtle’s lover, he directly causes Gatsby’s death (Gale, 2019). His guilty conscience made him take Daisy on a trip without leaving the itinerary so that no one could find them. With this understanding, Tom Buchanan is also accountable for Gatsby’s death.

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George Wilson

George Wilson also contributed to the killing of Gatsby, literally and indirectly. He is the one who shot Jay Gatsby before shooting himself after getting his residence information from Tom Buchanan. This makes him the criminal in murdering Gatsby, hence another domino in the falling of Gatsby (Gale, 2019). However, he unknowingly facilitates his death by locking his wife up so she will not meet her lover. George holding his wife hostage provoked Myrtle’s escape, which led to her death, rippling to Gatsby’s death.


In closing, as seen above, Gatsby’s death is not one person’s responsibility. The chain reaction leading to Gatsby’s end has several catalysts, with some playing more significant roles than others. As shown above, Gatsby plays a crucial role in his death, which Tom and Daisy Buchanan further contribute. Although George pulls the trigger, he carries the slightest blame for Gatsby’s death. In summary, Gatsby, Tom, Daisy Buchanan, and George Wilson are accountable for Gatsby’s death.

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Did you like this sample?
  1. Gale, C. (2019). A Study Guide (New Edition) for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s” The Great Gatsby.” Gale, Cengage.
  2. Lasky, N. V. (2019). Victim precipitation theory. The encyclopedia of women and crime, 1-2.
  3. Petherick, W. (2017). Victim precipitation: Why we need to expand upon the theory. Forensic Research and Criminology International Journal5(2), 263-264.
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