The Great Gatsby

Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom.

When answering think about why Daisy would decide to stay with Tom instead of going off with Gatsby.

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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."

"Not exactly."

"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."

Another pause. A waiter knocked and came in with crushed mint and ice but, the silence was unbroken by his "thank you." and the soft closing of the door. This tremendous detail was to be cleared up at last.

"I told you I went there," said Gatsby.

"I heard you, but I’d like to know when."

"It was in nineteen-nineteen, I only stayed five months. That’s why I can’t really call myself an Oxford man."

Tom glanced around to see if we mirrored his unbelief. But we were all looking at Gatsby.

"It was an opportunity they gave to some of the officers after the Armistice," he continued. "We could go to any of the universities in England or France."

I wanted to get up and slap him on the back. I had one of those renewals of complete faith in him that I’d experienced before.

Daisy pretty much goes where the money is. In the end she figures Tom is flowing with old money that never stops plus he has the right pedigree.