Why Do Tom and Daisy Leave? Was It for Love or Money?

Last Updated: October 18th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

At the end of Chapter 9, after Gatsby dies, narrator Nick Carraway tries to call Daisy for several reasons only to be told that the couple has “left town.”

Tom and Daisy Buchanan with their East Egg mansion in the background

Why would Tom and Daisy leave their East Egg mansion? Did Eastern life not agree with them? Were they concerned that Gatsby’s death would rub off and stain their lives? 

It’s easy to see that the couple left town to avoid any scandal or involvement with the deaths of Myrtle, Gatsby, and George. Nick calls this their “carelessness” as they run away and let other people “clean up the mess they had made”.  

The truth is that there are many reasons why Tom and Daisy would flee their East Egg life.

You can find The Great Gatsby Chapter 9 summary here.

Why Would Nick Look for Daisy?

several crosses on tombs arrayed in a straight line

After Gatsby’s death, the only people who were at the house were some servants, the police, and Nick Carraway.

The job of arranging Gatsby’s funeral falls on Nick, but he doesn’t seem to feel that he can do the man justice.

A person’s death, especially an untimely one such as Gatsby’s, should be followed by weeping, mourning, not to mention friends and family to say good things about the deceased.

There was literally no one to do those things for Gatsby other than Nick. 

Daisy Buchanan wearing a fancy headband

The person who Gatsby was closest to and loved most of all was Daisy. Nick isn’t sure if Daisy has heard about the terrible way Gatsby was murdered, but he seems confident that if he told Daisy, she would at the very least send flowers or make an appearance for the man she claimed to love.

Not only does Daisy not do any of the above, but she also leaves town.

Nick is surprised when a servant answers the phone and tells him that the couple has left town. He didn’t know when they would return, if ever, or where they went. He didn’t have a forwarding address or even a phone number.

Nick is a person of integrity and character. He continually tells the dead Gatsby that he will find someone for him, but in the end, he finds no one other than Gatsby’s father, a few servants, the postman, and Owl Eyes.

Why Would Tom and Daisy Leave Town?

The short answer here is because there is nothing to keep them in East Egg.

Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson (read Myrtle Wilson Character Traits here ), is dead. A police inquiry will be made, and it’s possible that someone will discover that Tom was Myrtle’s lover.

With the death of Gatsby and with George Wilson taking his own life, another police inquiry might uncover the fact that Gatsby was not alone in the car. The public would love an opportunity to gossip.

The wife of the rich and powerful Tom Buchanan was in a car with another man, and the wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby was killed by the husband of Myrtle Wilson. These are more than enough to keep tongues wagging!

silhouette of a couple holding hands looking at a body of water living the American Dream

Tom and Daisy were forced to leave Chicago due to Tom’s illicit affairs. They ended their honeymoon abruptly when Tom was in a traffic accident in which the woman in his car (a maid from the hotel they were staying at) suffered a broken arm.

While it’s true that Daisy was having an affair with Gatsby, it is mainly due to Tom’s affairs that the couple was forced to move so often.

Unwilling to be the brunt of gossip or to possibly become involved in a police investigation, Tom and Daisy simply leave town rather than face reality.

Where Are Tom and Daisy at the End of the Book?

Tom and Daisy Buchanan

While F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t necessarily state a date when Gatsby is murdered, the reader is under the impression that it was late summer. Perhaps early September, since Gatsby stated that he wished to use the pool at least once before it was drained for the fall weather.

After Gatsby’s funeral, Nick can barely stand to be near the mansion, and even New York feels haunted to him. Nick remembers all the places he visited with Tom and Gatsby, as well as all the people he met who were only too happy to take advantage of Gatsby’s generosity.

Nick sees Tom in New York in late October. This might mean that 2 or 3 months have passed. Tom probably did not move very far away, unless he was visiting New York.

Nick is at first angry with Tom, even refusing to shake Tom’s hand. However, after hearing him out, Nick realizes that Tom completely believes that telling George where to find Gatsby was completely justified and that there is really no reason to be angry with him.

The pair shake hands and Tom walks away, entering a jewelry store, more than likely to buy something for a new mistress.

The reader isn’t given any more information about Daisy, where the couple has moved, or if they ever plan to return to their mansion with the green light on the boat dock.

Why Didn’t Daisy Come to Gatsby’s Funeral?

several men carrying a white casket

It seems strange to most people that Daisy did not even send flowers to Gatsby’s funeral, but one wonders if she knew that he had been murdered or that he was dead.

Remember that back in the 1920s, television had not been invented yet. Radio was popular but at that time it was still in its infancy, and it’s possible that Daisy’s home did not have one yet.

The main source of news during this time period was newspapers, and it’s doubtful that Daisy bothered to read one very often, if at all.

The first reason why Daisy may not have attended or sent flowers could be because she was unaware of what happened. That’s assuming that Daisy did know Gatsby was dead.

One would think that when the love of your life (or at least for the past 5 years) passes away, one would want to pay their respects.

a white casket with a candle near it

However, for Daisy, this would mean facing reality and the death of her dream – living in love with Gatsby.

Daisy might have also been concerned that she would be tainted by the scandal of an affair/murder/suicide.

Last, how would it have benefited Daisy to attend Gatsby’s funeral? Gatsby’s fortune could not buy her anything that her husband Tom could not buy. She would no longer get love or affection from the man, and attending the funeral of a person who was of a lower social class could not be good for her reputation.

If Daisy knew about Gatsby’s death, she had no reason to attend and many reasons to avoid it.

Where Were Tom and Daisy During Gatsby’s Funeral?

feet of a man and a woman

It appears that Tom took the opportunity to use Gatsby’s funeral as a cover for their escape.

While the author doesn’t give us exact days and times, Nick attempts to reach Daisy before the funeral, and he is told that the couple has left town.

It seems difficult to believe that on the last night of Myrtle’s and Gatsby’s lives, Tom and Daisy decide to pack up and leave.

Being wealthy, the couple can leave most of the packing to their servants but would need to take some immediate personal items. So one can assume that, even while Nick is calling and during Gatsby’s funeral, the Buchanans decided to pack up and go elsewhere.

We don’t know where the Buchanans went, but since Tom shows up in New York City a few months later, it’s doubtful that they went very far.

Final Thoughts on Tom and Daisy Leaving

It’s hard to say if Daisy and Tom left East Egg permanently or spent the winter elsewhere since the author doesn’t provide many details about why or where the couple may have gone.

The last chapter of The Great Gatsby is truly tragic when the reader considers all the people who were too happy to take advantage of Gatsby’s house and hospitality but would not give him a second thought in his death.

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald shows the reader how the rich and the poor are treated differently. Curiously, Fitzgerald doesn’t tell us how many people attended Myrtle or George Wilson’s funeral, but we can safely assume that it was attended by far more people than the wealthy Jay Gatsby’s funeral.

The old money of East Egg did not want to mingle with the new money of West Egg, not even out of respect for the dead.

Why Do Tom and Daisy Leave? Was It for Love or Money?
Why Do Tom and Daisy Leave? Was It for Love or Money?
At the end of Chapter 9, we discover that Daisy and Tom have left East Egg, probably for good. Why would they do such a thing? It’s all about their reputation, folks.
Gatsby Flapper Girl