Home 1920s Unraveling the Mystery: Who Killed Myrtle Wilson in The Great Gatsby?

Unraveling the Mystery: Who Killed Myrtle Wilson in The Great Gatsby?


The trajectory of events in this narrative inexorably leads to a tragic conclusion. Gradually, the book introduces the escalating intensity of love affairs, Jay Gatsby’s enigmatic past, the undercurrents of illegal alcohol, and the seemingly superficial nature of Daisy Buchanan’s affections for Gatsby. Eventually, this crescendo culminates in the demise of multiple characters.

In Chapter 7 of “The Great Gatsby,” Myrtle Wilson meets her tragic end, struck by Gatsby’s distinctive yellow car. Gatsby asserts that it was Daisy Buchanan behind the wheel, the one responsible for Myrtle’s fatal collision.

With finesse, Fitzgerald methodically constructs the narrative, allowing tension to mount steadily. In the denouement, the reader is confronted with the stark reality of the characters’ deplorable behavior.

The question of Myrtle Wilson’s death becomes a central enigma. Was her husband, Tom, culpable? Did Jay Gatsby play a role? Could Daisy be held accountable? Alternatively, did Myrtle take her own life? Fitzgerald leaves this inquiry lingering, prompting readers to reflect on the intricacies of responsibility and consequence woven into the fabric of his tale.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, “The Great Gatsby,” is a tale of decadence, longing, and the American Dream set against the backdrop of the roaring 1920s. Among the many intricacies woven into the narrative, the death of Myrtle Wilson remains a pivotal and mysterious event. As readers navigate the tangled web of love, betrayal, and wealth, the question looms large: Who killed Myrtle Wilson?

Setting the Stage:

Before delving into the mystery, it’s crucial to understand the characters and the socio-economic milieu of the novel. Myrtle Wilson, a lower-class woman, is unhappily married to George Wilson, the owner of a run-down garage. Their modest existence stands in stark contrast to the opulence of East Egg, where the enigmatic Jay Gatsby resides, and West Egg, home to the narrator, Nick Carraway.

The Players:

Tom Buchanan:

    • Tom is Myrtle’s lover and a wealthy, arrogant man.
    • He represents the callousness and excesses of the upper class.

Daisy Buchanan:

      • Daisy, Tom’s wife, is entangled in a complicated love triangle with Gatsby and Tom.
      • Her actions have far-reaching consequences throughout the novel.

Myrtle Wilson:

        • Myrtle’s aspirations for a better life lead her into a tumultuous affair with Tom.
        • Her tragic end becomes a turning point in the story.

The Incident:

The fatal incident occurs when Myrtle, caught up in a fit of despair and desperation, runs out onto the road, believing Gatsby’s luxurious yellow car is Tom’s. Tragically, she is struck and killed, leaving readers to grapple with the aftermath.

Possible Suspects:

Tom Buchanan:

    • The obvious suspect, given his abusive relationship with Myrtle and the fact that it was his car that struck her.
    • Tom’s reckless behavior and disdain for the lower classes contribute to the suspicion.

Daisy Buchanan:

      • Gatsby claims responsibility for the crime to protect Daisy.
      • Daisy, however, lacks the emotional fortitude to admit her involvement, which complicates the narrative.

Jay Gatsby:

        • Gatsby, infatuated with Daisy, may have taken the blame to shield her from the consequences.
        • His wealth and mysterious past add layers of complexity to the investigation.

The Reveal:

Fitzgerald masterfully leaves the answer to this question open to interpretation, allowing readers to form their conclusions. While Tom Buchanan’s car was the instrument of Myrtle’s demise, the moral responsibility is shared among the characters. The tragedy serves as a metaphor for the moral decay and consequences of the pursuit of wealth and social status during the Jazz Age.


“The Great Gatsby” remains a timeless exploration of the American Dream and its pitfalls. The mystery surrounding Myrtle Wilson’s death encapsulates the novel’s theme of moral ambiguity and the consequences of unchecked desire. Fitzgerald invites readers to reflect on the choices made by his characters and, by extension, the society they represent, challenging us to ponder who, ultimately, killed Myrtle Wilson.

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