How are Tom and Gatsby different in their personalities, affairs, and outlooks on the world?
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Tom and Gatsby are certainly opposite. They are character foils for each other, they bring out what is best and worst about the other. Tom comes from old money. That is he inherited all of it while Gatsby, though dubiously, is self made. Gatsby is simply a boy from North Dakota without connections, money, or education. While Tom is a product of the Ivy League Gatsby's education is through his "checkered" past. This discourse between Gatsby and Tom reflects Tom's condescending attitude towards Gatsby's "lesser" education and class. This attitude brings out Tom's demeaning class oppressiveness and Gatsby's very genuine world experience. Consider this very strained exchange between the two:
Gatsby’s foot beat a short, restless tattoo and Tom eyed him suddenly.
"By the way, Mr. Gatsby, I understand you’re an Oxford man."
"Oh, yes, I understand you went to Oxford."
"Yes – I went there."
Pause. Then Tom’s voice, incredulous and insulting: "You must have gone there about the time Biloxi went to New Haven."
"I told you I went there," said Gatsby.
"I heard you, but I’d like to know when."