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Compare and contrast the behaviors of Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.

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hdrummer | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 26, 2009 at 9:36 AM via web

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Compare and contrast the behaviors of Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM (Answer #1)

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Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby behave in some of the same ways. Both spend money freely and live in luxury. Each man believes Daisy loves him, and each one opposes the other in order to keep Daisy for himself. Both Tom and Jay assert strong will to get what they want; neither will admit personal defeat. When they do argue over Daisy in the hotel suite, both men argue with vehemence; their behavior suggests a sense of controlled violence.

Contrasting their behavior is an easier task. Tom treats others with arrogance and cruelty; Gatsby is open to friendship, accepting people he meets at face value. Unlike Tom, Gatsby does not behave with a sense of entitlement since he has worked throughout his life, not having been born into a life of wealth and privilege. Tom behaves in a manner that is both violent and hypocritical. He condemns marital infidelity, for instance, while carrying on an affair with Myrtle Wilson. Unlike Tom, who broke Myrtle's nose in an explosion of anger, Gatsby remains in control at all times, even refusing to drink at his own parties to avoid the loss of control. Inventing a rich and romantic background for himself may make Gatsby a fraud, but he does not act like a hypocrite; he does not condemn others for the same actions he takes. A very important contrast can be seen in their relationships with Daisy. Gatsby pursues Daisy because he loves her deeply; Tom struggles to keep Daisy in their marriage because he can't stand the idea that someone could take away a possession that belongs to him.

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abygirlb | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted April 14, 2009 at 2:51 AM (Answer #2)

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To compare Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan is quite simple. Jay Gatsby was born in the cheaper part of the towns were as Tom Buchanan was born in a prominent household and were he could marry anybody he wishes. on the other hand Jay Gatsby had to put on his military uniform to get attention from the ladies and he wouldn't have gotten it any other way because he was from the slums almost and Tom Buchanan wasn't he was an all American oxford university graduate and he didn't have to risk it all on a little thing. Jay Gatsby did graduate from Oxford University when he was younger and he did sail on a massive boat and that is probably how he got to where he is in life now where as where he was in the 1920S .

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