Describe The Meeting Of Tom And Gatsby

In Great Gatsby, what does the meeting between Tom and Gatsby reveal about them?  How did Gatsby measure the success of his party?

Chapter 6

Expert Answers info

teachsuccess eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3,263 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In Chapter 6, Tom and Gatsby meet twice at Gatsby's house. During the first meeting, Tom and Gatsby are superficially cordial to each other.

Gatsby stands ready to defend his affections for Daisy (Tom's wife), but Tom appears to be oblivious to Gatsby's connection to his wife. During this initial meeting, Gatsby's faux civility barely hides his animosity towards Tom; his behavior and body language reveal that he sees Tom as a rival for Daisy's affections. 

Meanwhile, Tom affects a disinterested air during the meeting; it is obvious that he thinks very little of Gatsby.

After all, Gatsby is newly wealthy, while Tom comes from "old money." Social elites such as Tom Buchanan feel it is their right to exclude the "new money" crowd from their circles. This is why Tom can't contain his disgust when Gatsby unwittingly accepts an insincere dinner invitation from one of his friends. 

"My God, I believe the man's coming," said Tom. "Doesn't he know she doesn't want him?"

"She says she does want him."

"She has a big dinner party and he won't know a soul there." He frowned. "I wonder where in the devil he met Daisy. By God, I may be old−fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit me. They meet all kinds of crazy fish."

Tom is angry that Daisy appears to have some connection to Gatsby. His snobbish attitude exposes his bigotry, his prevailing belief that "new money" has no right insinuating itself into the distinguished "old money" circle. 

The second meeting between Tom and Gatsby occurs when Tom and Daisy attend one of Gatsby's parties. There, Gatsby tries to insult Tom by referring to him as the "polo player." The hostility between both men is evident.

After the party, Gatsby reveals his disappointment to Nick. He measures the success of his party through the barometer of Daisy's behavior: because Daisy did not appear to enjoy herself, Gatsby concludes that the party wasn't a success.

He tells Nick of his fear that he and Daisy seem to have lost their natural camaraderie. For his part, Gatsby wants to continue his affair with Daisy, regardless of the consequences. He desires to rekindle their past romance, but Daisy appears skeptical about this. Essentially, Gatsby means to insinuate himself into the "old money" circle, regardless of what Tom thinks.

The events in this chapter perfectly reinforce the notion of a latent enmity between Tom and Gatsby. 




check Approved by eNotes Editorial

dymatsuoka eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write3,287 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Math

Tom and Gatsby meet when Tom and two friends drop in at Gatsby's house on horseback to get a drink.  Gatsby greets them cordially, even though they are not interested in his company; refreshment "was all they came for".  Gatsby is at first flustered, recognizing Tom as Daisy's husband, and Tom doesn't remember meeting him before.  When Gatsby recovers from his surprise, he becomes bold, telling Tom "I know your wife".  One of the group invites Gatsby to join them for supper, but it is obvious Tom and the other visitor don't want him to accept.  Gatsby, oblivious to their animosity, prepares to go with them.

In this meeting, Tom is revealed as self-centered and rude. He has stopped by only because he wants a drink, and when Gatsby accepts the invitation to come along, he says, "My God, I believe the man's coming...doesn't he know she doesn't want him?"  Gatsby, not understanding that he is not wanted, is revealed as naive.  His singleminded and unrealistic obsession with Daisy also comes to light, as he "almost aggressively" begins the process of initiating his case with her husband.

Later, Gatsby considers his party a failure, because of Daisy's reaction.  His expectations are wildly unrealistic, however.  He "wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say 'I never loved you'" so that she could pick up with Gatsby again where they left off five years ago.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial