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I'd like to know if the word "paternal" means "paternalist" or "paternalistic" in the...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:45 PM via web

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I'd like to know if the word "paternal" means "paternalist" or "paternalistic" in the following excerpts from The Great Gatsby(all about Tom):

1) (Chapter 1) His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked—and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts.

2) (Chapter 7) “Sit down, Daisy.” Tom’s voice groped unsuccessfully for the paternal note. “What’s been going on? I want to hear all about it.”

 

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:30 AM (Answer #1)

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The difference that seems to exist among the words paternal and paternalistic/paternalist is the degree and type of authority exerted. In the excerpt from Chapter One, for instance, there is the suggestion of Tom's authoritative arrogance that is exerted in his opinions as he exudes brute force. The juxtaposition of the word paternal with contempt certainly suggests such dictatorial energy. With such a posture, there would, indeed, be men "who hated his guts." Only a few lines further from the passage cited above, Tom speaks,

"I've got a nice place here," he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.

That his eyes flash in such a manner indicates Tom's authoritative posture that admits no negation.

In the second passage cited from Chapter Seven, Tom attempts to sound like a loving father who cares for his child, but he fails. This passage is within the context of the conflict between Gatsby and Tom in which Gatsby challenges Tom for the love of Daisy. But, Tom insists, paternally, that Daisy loves him and Gatsby's words are lies,

"Daisy loved me when she married me and she loves me now.....

"The trouble is that sometimes she gets foolish ideas in her head and doesn't know what she's doing." He nodded his head sagely. " And what's more, I love Daisy too....and in my heart I love her all the time."

The brutish Tom attempts to sound paternal when he wishes to hold on to Daisy; however, he is, in fact, paternalistic and authoritative whenever possible for him.

 

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