Help comparing and contrasting Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. How do their differences and similarities affect the events that take place and their relationships with other...

Help comparing and contrasting Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. How do their differences and similarities affect the events that take place and their relationships with other characters?"

I know the basic differences such as old vs. new money. I believe they both have ambitions in life and will do anything to achieve them. However they have different ways of getting what they want. I need to write this essay comparing them. I have a teacher who is a really tough grader. 

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thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

There are several things you can do to ensure a good grade on your paper. The first I would recommend is very careful editing. I noticed (and fixed) multiple grammatical errors in your post. Your impression that the teacher is "tough" may be due to a habit of taking off one or two letter grades for grammatical errors.

The obvious contrast between the characters is that Jay Gatsby, as you state, has earned his own "new" money and that Tom is from "old" money. Both are, in a sense, newcomers to the Eggs, immigrants from the Midwest, but Tom's degree from Yale, athletic prowess, involvement in the upper-class sport of polo, and inherited wealth make him socially acceptable in the society of East Egg. Gatsby, despite his wealth, is considered an outsider.

The central difference is that Gatsby is a dynamic character, capable of repeated forms of self-fashioning and change. In this, he represents the dynamism of the new world, and the ability of people to become whatever they wish by means of willpower alone. 

Tom, on the other hand, represents the Old World beliefs of Europe, with people's lives being determined by birth. His obsession with Arayanism exemplifies this notion that we are determined by our heritage and that we cannot change who we are. Tom makes no effort to change himself, and admires a static model of individuals and society.

In the plot, you might look at the ways in which Gatsby tries to change the established order, in terms of his own circumstances, other people, and the society of the Eggs, and how he ultimately fails. 

Sources:
user5661703's profile pic

user5661703 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Tom was born rich and because of this, he is extremely arrogant, and does not know the value of money, since Gatsby was originally poor, and had to work hard for his money, he doesnt think he is above everyone poorer than himself.

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