At a first glace, it is tempting to jump to a quick conclusion and declare that Jim is a foil of Tom in that they are contemporaries but Jim is more stable and mature than Tom.
However, when you take a second look at the two men, there may be more than meets the eye. Maybe they have the same problems, but they deal with them differently. Yet, there may be more in common between them than we think.
First, although Jim was once a class leader, an athlete, and the most likely to succeed in hi youth, the economy made it almost impossible for Jim to reach the goals he may have set out in life. Moreover, Jim really does not accomplish much after high school. Could he be still living under the glitz and the glory of the past? Has he really made plans for his future? How come he ended up basically in the same spot as Tom who has experienced neither glory nor glitz in life. Ever!
Second, we know that Jim had at some point demonstrates his feelings for Laura. Yet, he is engaged to be married. He does not allow his obvious feelings for Laura to change the course of his life. Yet, it seems as if the only vestige that Jimmy has kept from his past is sticking to discipline rather than exploring himself as a person. He is the type of person meant to get things done.
Tom is the opposite in terms of discipline: He escapes reality, drinks and goes to the movies. He is the typical child raised without structure. However, he too sees how life can shatter dreams, and he also lives somewhat in the edge. However Tom has never been as great as Jim. This means that Tom has less to lose in life even if he chooses not to move further on.
In the end, Jim demonstrates that he is the least conformist. He actually moves away from it all. Not even Jim could do this. That is a lot to say for Tom. It certainly makes him a quite courageous character.