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Describe Tom Buchanan's role in chapter 2 in The Great Gatsby.

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emma-lynn36 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 28, 2012 at 11:31 PM via web

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Describe Tom Buchanan's role in chapter 2 in The Great Gatsby.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:54 AM (Answer #1)

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One of the themes in The Great Gatsby is honesty. Gatsby himself is dishonest because of the superficiality of his constructed social persona. But Tom's dishonesty is more selfish and malicious. A comparison is initiated in chapter 2 between Tom and Gatsby. Gatsby later emerges as an idealistic manipulator and, in this chapter, Tom emerges as a thoughtless manipulator. 

Nick has known Tom since college, but he learns that Tom is racist and perhaps even has Nazi-like beliefs on race. He also learns of Tom's affair with Myrtle and the condescending way Tom treats Mr. Wilson. By the end of chapter 2, Tom has clearly established himself as a selfish elitist. His role is not necessarily the villain in the novel because he, Daisy, Myrtle and even Gatsby all play destructive roles. But Tom does establish himself in this chapter as a thoughtless elitist. Certainly, Nick sees this with Tom's racist comments and the callous way he breaks Myrtle's nose. While Nick does find redeeming qualities in Gatsby, he finds none in Tom. 

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