The Great Gatsby Contents
A hard man
Tom Buchanan, aged 30 during the events of the novel, is one of the most two-dimensional characters of the novel: his aggressive, masculine and unsubtle approach to life is constant. Nick’s description emphasises Tom’s power:
As a successful sportsman from a rich Chicago family, Tom has great wealth, a family and a mistress, and is ruthless in his determination to retain these assets. There is an emphasis on his physicality, even violence - he hurts both his female ‘chattels’, Daisy and Myrtle. He is not particularly intelligent and his racial prejudice is mocked by the other characters, especially when he claims to have gained his knowledge from reading and understanding ‘scientific’ research.
Survival of the fittest
However, Tom may be said to be smart. He is canny enough to investigate Gatsby, swift to react in Wilson’s garage when he realises that he may be associated with Gatsby’s car, and he may be cunning in his interactions with Wilson that lead to Gatsby’s murder. Furthermore, he controls and manipulates Daisy; Nick reports that he uses a ‘husky’ voice to remind her of their past affection when Gatsby is threatening to usurp his position as Daisy’s lover.
At the end of the novel, Tom is characterised, along with Daisy, as ‘careless’ and destructive. He experiences no sense of responsibility and never reflects on his own actions.
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