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Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom?How are they alike and different Given the...

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yes-no | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 17, 2010 at 2:55 AM via web

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Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom?How are they alike and different Given the extremely negative light in which Tom is portrayed throughout thenovel

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 17, 2010 at 4:07 AM (Answer #1)

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Tom is portrayed negatively by the narrator Nick in The Great Gatsby, and Nick's negative view of Tom may be exacerbated (made worse) by Nick's Midwestern values.  If the narrator were from the East and an extremely wealthy man himself, his portrayal of Tom might be different.

At the same time, though Nick is opinionated, as any life-like fictional character is, he seems more than willing to relate multiple sides of characters.  He presents moments of Daisy's dazzling charm and beauty, but also presents her at times as shallow and greedy.  Jordan, too, is presented with positive, as well as negative, characteristics.  But Nick doesn't really reveal anything positive about Tom.  It's all negative.

That said, then, one can probably assume that while Tom's characterization in the novel may be slightly skewed by Nick, on the whole it's probably pretty accurate.

Concerning the comparisan you need:

  • Tom is old money, Gatsby new
  • Tom is a pragmatist, Gatsby an idealist
  • Tom is practical, Gatsby is a romantic
  • Tom is closed-minded, Gatsby open-minded, at least for the most part
  • Tom is Eastern, Gatsby Midwestern

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