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When Tom hit Myrtle in chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby, what does this reveal about Tom?

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marshayla | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 29, 2013 at 3:26 PM via iOS

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When Tom hit Myrtle in chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby, what does this reveal about Tom?

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:47 PM (Answer #1)

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Tom is showing his desire to keep the two parts of his life completely separate. He had Daisy, his beautiful, socially acceptable trophy wife, for those occasions when he needed an attractive woman as a companion. He also had Myrtle, whose lust for life fed his ego and whose sexual attraction to him, and he to her, was undeniable.

Tom is also demonstrating his expectation that he should always be able to make the rules and that they should be obeyed without question. Tom is accustomed to having his own way; when Myrtle doesn't immediately give in and agree to abide by his viewpoint, Tom's volatile temper erupts.

Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face, discussing in impassioned voices whether Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy's name. "Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!" shouted Mrs. Wilson. "I'll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai-" Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted May 24, 2015 at 4:18 PM (Answer #2)

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In chapter two of The Great Gatsby, we see that Tom is having an affair with Myrtle. We get a glimpse into the man that is Tom. Tom is married to Daisy, who provides him with the social standing he so longs to have, yet he is seeing Myrtle on the side. Myrtle is married and sees Tom as her ticket to the life she wants. 

When Nick accompanies Tom and Myrtle to the city, we see the kind person that Tom is really. Tom comes across as the kind of man that has everything, but deep down he is just a bully. When Myrtle starts to taunt to Tom about Daisy, Tom gets furious at her and slaps her. This action shows us that Tom has major anger issues and longs to be in control all the time. We all know that Tom is never going to leave Daisy for Myrtle. Myrtle is just someone to keep Tom entertained until he gets bored with her and moves onto another woman. Tom wants everyone to think that he has everything, money, power, a perfect wife, when in reality, Tom really doesn't have very much to offer. 

Tom is going to do whatever he has to do to make sure he gets what he wants. It doesn't matter who he hurts in the meantime. Tom's actions lead to tragic consequences to everyone one involved because of his temper, and his constant concern about appearances. 

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