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The theme of carelessness in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy– they smashed up things and creatures and the retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was the kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald 180-181). In the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the characters Daisy and Tom demonstrate the theme of carelessness. Tom and Daisy show carelessness through being foolish thus lacking a lack of good sense or judgment. Furthermore, they both show the theme of carelessness by being inconsiderate of others. The theme of negligence is also demonstrated when Tom and Daisy are both self-centered by fulfilling only their own personal needs. Therefore, through their actions, both Tom and Daisy are careless, however it is Daisy who is ultimately the most careless because Daisy harmed many more people.

Both Tom and Daisy are selfish through being self-centered. They do this by fulfilling only their own personal needs. For instance, Tom fulfilled his own personal needs by having an affair with Myrtle. “As for Tom, the fact that he ‘had some woman in New York’ was really less surprising than that he had been depressed by a book. Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.” (pg. 20-21) It is evident that Tom shows carelessness by openly having an affair with Myrtle. This affair leads him to be self-centered because even though he was married to Daisy, he feels as if she does not “nourish his heart” enough so he needs to turn to someone else to do so. However, Daisy shows that she is self-centered by having an affair with Gatsby. “Then he [Gatsby] kissed her. At lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.” (Fitzgerald 112)

Therefore, Daisy is self-centered because she continues to have an affair with Gatsby to benefit herself, going against her commitment to Tom. This is a form of carelessness because it shows her lack of caring for Tom. Daisy is also self-centered because she is “enchanted” by Gatsby’s material goods. “With enchanting murmurs Daisy admired the aspect or that of the feudal silhouette against the sky, admired the gardens, the sparkling odor of jonquils and the frothy pale odor of kiss-me-at-the-gate.” (Fitzgerald 92) It is clear that Gatsby charms Daisy with his material items. She is captivated by his enormous house and his gardens. In all actuality, Daisy is a very materialistic person who is motivated by Gatsby’s wealth and uses this wealth to benefit herself. This proves that Daisy is extremely self-centered. The fact that Daisy benefits herself with Gatsby’s wealth shows a lack of caring for Gatsby. Therefore, even though Tom is self-centered by having an affair with Myrtle, Daisy is more self-centered because she has an affair with Gatsby and uses him for his material goods.

In addition, Tom and Daisy show carelessness by being inconsiderate of others. Tom demonstrates carelessness when he ignores Daisy at dinner time by talking to Myrtle, his mistress in New York.

“‘You mean to say you don’t know?’ said Miss Baker, honestly surprised.

‘I thought everybody knew.’

‘I don’t.’

‘Why–‘ she said hesitantly, ‘Tom’s got some woman in New York.’

‘Got some woman?’ I repeated blankly. Miss Baker nodded.” (Fitzgerald 15-16) Not only does Daisy have knowledge of this affair, but everyone in East Egg does as well. The fact that Tom has this affair so openly clearly demonstrates his carelessness and his lack of respect for Daisy. This lack of respect shows that Tom is inconsiderate of Daisy. However, Daisy demonstrates carelessness by displaying her affection for Gatsby in front of Nick and Jordan while her husband is still present in her house.

“As he left the room again she got up and bent over to Gatsby and pulled his face down, kissing him on the mouth.

‘You know I love you.’ she murmured.

‘You forget there’s a lady present,’ said Jordan. Daisy looked around doubtfully ‘You kiss Nick too.’

‘What a low, vulgar girl!’

‘I don’t care!’ cried Daisy, and began to clog on the brick fireplace.” (Fitzgerald 116) It is evident that Daisy’s words “I don’t care” show that she is inconsiderate of other peoples’ feelings. She rudely shows her affection for Gatsby in public without considering the fact that Nick and Myrtle are present. In addition to being inconsiderate of Nick and Jordan, Daisy is inconsiderate to Tom as well. “She looked at him [Tom] blindly. ‘Why–how could I love him–possibly?'” (Fitzgerald 132) It is extremely inconsiderate to be telling Tom– the man to whom she is married– that she never loved him. Therefore, even though Tom showed carelessness through being inconsiderate of Daisy, Daisy was the more careless one because she was inconsiderate of more people as a result of her behaviour. These people include Nick, Jordan, and Tom.

Finally, both Tom and Daisy show carelessness through being foolish. Tom Buchanan exhibits foolishness by physically harming Daisy. “We all looked. The knuckle was black and blue.

‘You did it, Tom,’ she said accusingly.

‘I know you didn’t mean to, but you did do it. That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen of a–‘” (Fitzgerald 12) This is significant because since Tom was foolish by acting on impulse, Daisy got injured. Even though Daisy described that Tom did not mean to do this to her, it shows that Tom cannot control his urge to harm others, therefore showing that he lacks a good sense of judgment. This, in turn, demonstrates carelessness. Nevertheless, Daisy exhibits foolishness as well by having an abrupt inclination to drive the car, thinking it would calm her nerves. “‘You see, when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive– and this woman rushed out at us just as we were passing a car coming the other way. It all happened in a minute, but it seemed to me that she wanted to speak to us, thought we were somebody she knew.

Well, first Daisy turned away from the woman toward the other car, and then she lost her nerve and turned back. The second my hand reached the wheel I felt a shock– it must have killed her instantly.'” (Fitzgerald 145) It is evident that Daisy was foolish because she did not think through the consequences of her driving carefully. Since she was feeling nervous that day, she should not have driven because many car accidents are caused by reckless drivers who are emotionally unstable. In Daisy’s case, her thoughtlessness to drive when she was unstable eventually leads to Myrtle’s death. Daisy is also foolish because she speaks her mind without thinking the consequences of her words. “She had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw. He was astounded. His mouth opened a little, and he looked at Gatsby, and then back at Daisy as if he had just recognized her as someone he knew a long time ago.” (Fitzgerald 119)

It is evident that Daisy shows carelessness by foolishly telling Gatsby she loves him in Tom’s presence. Even though that was the emotion she may have felt at the time, it was foolish to tell this to Gatsby because Tom was present at that moment. Therefore, it is clear that Daisy is more careless than Tom because her foolishness ultimately resulted in her betrayal to Tom as well as Myrtle’s death. Moreover, Daisy’s negligence resulted in Myrtle’s death which triggered Gatsby’s death and eventually lead to George Wilson’s death as well. Therefore, Daisy is responsible for many peoples’ lives due to her careless behaviour.

Tom and Daisy Buchanan in the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald demonstrate carelessness in many ways, shapes, and forms. They are both foolish in their actions, they are continuously inconsiderate of other people, and as a result of their selfish ways, they become very self-centered people. Through their actions, both Tom and Daisy are careless, however it is Daisy who is ultimately the most careless because as a result, Daisy harmed more people than Tom and she was responsible for the death of Myrtle Wilson. Carelessness is demonstrated when people do not take concern in situations. It is when people lack forethought or thoroughness like Tom and Daisy. However, negligence should not be so controlling that it has the ability to eventually lead to the death and betrayal of many people.

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