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Violence Within the Great Gatsby

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Themes of violence and carelessness are found throughout the text of The Great Gatsby. A violent act is portrayed in every chapter of the novel but one; often, the episodes are the products of passion, but they are also frequently due to carelessness. Myrtle Wilson's tragic death perfectly embodies the sort of negligence, passion, and power that hangs about calamity throughout the novel. The driver, Daisy, appears suddenly, kills Myrtle, and leaves suddenly, without taking responsibility for damage done. "The 'death car,' as the newspapers called it, didn't stop; it came out of the gathering darkness, wavered tragically for a moment and then disappeared around the next bend" (Fitzgerald 144). The accident that killed Myrtle Wilson was a senseless and reckless act- the result of frayed nerves and a distracted mind. Daisy did not watch out- nor did she stop, investigate, or try to explain herself. The fact that her confession could have saved Gatsby's life is infuriating and typical of the character. This idea of carelessness seems common to women within the novel; Jordan Baker is another classic example of violence by negligence. She is breezy, carefree, and completely irresponsible, a striking impression made crystal clear in every situation, most notably when discussing her driving. When Nick scolds that she is a rotten driver, and that she should be careful, her blithe excuse for her negligence is that, "Well, other people are" (Fitzgerald 63). This flippant answer is an accurate glimpse into Jordan's nature. Jordan Baker's reckless abandon is just one example of the careless natures that contribute to violence within the novel. This thread of irresponsibility permeates throughout the novel. Tom and Daisy themselves are, in the end, deemed to be careless and dangerous. As Nick says, "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made..." (Fitzgerald 188). They're the sort of people Nick disapproves of, the people whom he left the east to get away from. Through this all, Fitzgerald, through Nick's voice, seems to be criticizing rashness, as careless actions and tragedy run rampant throughout the novel.

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