In the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there is a character who appears so little, but yet is so influential. He is responsible for so much action on the part of the main characters, but he himself does very little. The name of this character is Michaelis. He is described as the young Greek who ran the coffee joint in the Valley of Ashes, but a careful reader might implicate him as the cause of Gatsby s death and Wilson s in precisely three ways. He failed to determine the right killer of Myrtle, he did not get to the bottom of things when the Wilson was just suspicious, and then when Wilson had become entirely unstable he left the man unattended. Though it is obvious that wounds from bullets killed both Wilson and Gatsby, Michaelis played no small part in their deaths.
As the first sign of trouble appears with George Wilson, Michaelis is there as a friend and a kind hand. However, Michaelis soon realizes that Wilson is not just physically ill, and that something else is deeply wrong. Wilson says that he will not rest and close down the garage because he will miss too much business when Michaelis advises him to take a day off. Then when there is heard Myrtle fussing over her imprisonment in the upstairs apartment he really does not care enough to get to the root of it. Even after Wilson says I ve got my wife locked up in there, she s going to stay there until the day after tomorrow, and then we are going to move away. Michaelis does not understand that a man such as Wilson would not ever have the power to say this unless something was seriously wrong. However, he does not bother and soon leaves.
He means to come back and talk to Wilson later, but he does not, perhaps because he just forgot. Then he sees the Death Car. As he is in the doorway of his coffee shop, he witnesses the death of Myrtle Wilson by Daisy Buchanan. However, when he is interviewed he does not remember even the car very well. If he could have seen Daisy hit Myrtle then Wilson would never have suspected Gatsby. Wilson never would have asked Tom who owned the car, because he would have just gone to exact revenge on the Buchanans. He instead went for information to Tom who led him directly to Gatsby and the destruction of both men. When he failed to implicate Daisy as the driver, he led an already disturbed man to become even more overly paranoid than he was before. His failure led Wilson to believe that a mysterious car had murdered his wife, and that it was all somehow related to his wife s infidelity. He became a madman whose whole life was torn apart in one day, so he wanted to avenge his wife s death. If only he could have known the truth then he could have saved the lives of both of the men.
Even after his failure to identify Daisy as the killer, Michaelis goes on to be more irrational, and more irresponsible. When the poor broken man is mindless, and on the edge of sanity, he leaves him to his own devices. He could have called for another person to continue the watch over this mentally shattered man. When he leaves him he seals the fate of both Gatsby and Wilson. This allows all the emotion that had built up inside of Wilson from all the hatred of the world because he so trusted it and then he was betrayed, to be unleashed on a not quite innocent Gatsby, and more so his own self. Gatsby might be able to wash his hands of some of the outcomes of the whole affair, but he was a criminal. Wilson, however, is a character for which pity is deserved. He was used by nearly everyone he knew. His own wife could not stand him, yet he had no clue. With the whole awful truth of the world coming on him so hard and fast, the last straw was being left alone by Michaelis.
Michaelis, the young Greek, was a very influential character in the story. Had he not been there to see Gatsby s car, then nobody could have traced the accident to Gatsby in the first place, but if he saw everything then he could have cleared Gatsby s name, and solved the whole problem. If he called someone else to help him watch over the disturbed George Wilson then Myrtle might never have run into the street, and if he sought help after Myrtle s death then Wilson would never have been able to wander the East Coast in a mad state looking for revenge. Michaelis, though a very small character, his actions had gi-normous repercussions in the end.