The idea of carelessness plays an important role in The Great
Gatsby. Daisy, Tom, Jordan, Gatsby and Nick were all careless at some points throughout the book. Daisy and Tom were careless about their relationship, their money, and many of their daily activities. Gatsby was also unconcerned with his money. Jordan was blas about the way she treated other people.
ÒThey were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up
things and creatures and then retreated back to 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. . . .Ó(189) This was an accurate description of the way Tom and Daisy acted. They were constantly neglectful of the way they behaved and when they realized they were wrong, they would retreat back to their money. It was always other people that had to pay for Tom and DaisyÕs careless mistakes.
Daisy also admitted that she was careless in a dialogue with Nick.
ÒI am careful.Ó
ÒNo, youÕre notÓ
ÒWell, other people are,Ó she said lightly.
ÒWhatÕs that got to do with it?Ó
ÒTheyÕll keep out of my way,Ó she insisted. ÒIt takes two to make an accident.Ó
ÒSuppose you meet somebody just as careless as yourself.Ó
ÒI hope I never will,Ó she answered. ÒI hate careless people.Ó(63)
She quickly responded to Nick that she doesnÕt need to be careful. Daisy implied that it is the other personÕs responsibility to be mindful of her. She also said that she hates careless people right after she admitted that she was careless. Daisy was indifferent about her relationship with Tom. She knew that her husband was having an affair with another women but Daisy did not do anything about it.
Tom was careless in a much more obvious way. He was brutal as well as destructive. Tom felt that he could do anything he wanted and get away with it. He would never admit that he was dispassionate because he was egotistical. Tom was careless in his relationship with Daisy, his wife, and Myrtle Wilson, his lover. He allowed Gatsby to win his wifeÕs love. After Gatsby and Daisy fell in love again, all Tom could do was take his wife back and leave town for a couple of days. Tom was also unconcerned with his lover, Myrtle. He let his wife, his friends, and even MyrtleÕs husband know that they were having an affair. Obviously, Tom did not want everyone to know what he had been doing, but his careless actions revealed the truth.
Gatsby was a spendthrift with his money. He spent thousands of dollars on parties, his house, and all of his possessions just to impress his lover, Daisy. In other ways, Gatsby was overly careful. When Daisy killed Myrtle Wilson with his car, he took great precautions about the situation. He told Nick, ÒI got to West Egg by a side road,Ó he went on, Òand left the car in my garage. I donÕt think anybody saw me but of course I canÕt be sure.Ó(151)
Jordan was careless during a golf tournament. She won the match by kicking the ball into the hole when no one was looking. She was mindless because many people were watching her while she cheated. After this incident she was known as a cheater.
Meyer Wolfshiem, in comparison, was very careful. He tried to stay away from death and things that could cause trouble. He once told Nick after the death of Gatsby, ÒI canÕt do it – I canÕt get mixed up in it.Ó(180) He also commented, ÒWhen a man gets killed I never like to get mixed up in it in any way. . . .Ó(180)
The theme of carelessness in The Great Gatsby was very definite. Each person displayed characteristics that were either careless or mindful. The carelessness of the characters generally affected them in a negative way. They were careless about their relationship, their money, and many of the activities they did every day. These personality traits were almost impossible to change. The careless actions of many of the characters in The Great Gatsby affected their lives and those around them.