Discuss how a contemporary celebrity can be seen as similar to any of the characters in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby.Discuss how a contemporary celebrity can be seen as similar to any of...

Discuss how a contemporary celebrity can be seen as similar to any of the characters in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby.

Discuss how a contemporary celebrity can be seen as similar to any of the characters in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby.

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

We might draw an obvious comparison between Jordan Baker, the tennis star of the novel, and Anna Kournikova, the contemporary tennis star.

Both of them are caught up in "the fast lane", appparently enjoying the spotlight.

ms-charleston-yawp's profile pic

Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Let’s take a look at Tom’s thoughts on Goddard from the first chapter of The Great Gatsby (as well as Nick’s exasperated commentary):

“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it.  The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be—will be utterly submerged.  It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.” … There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him anymore.

In short, Tom ends up looking like the fool we already know he truly is.  Even Daisy, … Daisy (!) blows Tom off with a simple “expression of unthoughtful sadness” and a mention of “Tom’s getting very profound.”

This reminds me of general, mindless celebrities puffing themselves up to think they are somehow able to venture into the realm of political opinion .  While there are a select few with experience (Oprah, Schwarzenegger, Reagan, amid others come to mind) truly belong in that realm, most certainly do not.  Yet they want to exert their influence, … and unfortunately, some Americans let them!   Unfortunately, most of these celebrities end up sounding a lot like Tom with his Goddard quotations:  puffy and ignorant.

I’m afraid neither money nor power nor celebrity should be mistaken for knowledge.  Stick to your day job, guys.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is a fairly interesting question.  I would think that Tom represents a Donald Trump figure.  Tom's fairly ostentatious state of being in the opening chapter is something akin to Trump.  Additionally, Tom has no problem with the "magnitude of me" and the sense of his own superiority.  Indeed, Trump is similar in that he has no shortage of faith in self.  Where I think that their real connection lies in how they feel that their "success" allows them to parlay this into speaking with an air of authority on any subject.  Tom has no basis nor any idea to speak of "the colored people" or the "threatening of the White society."  He holds no degrees of advanced study in this field nor does his theory even make logical sense.  Yet, because he is wealthy and represents a sense of power, he is able to speak with absolute clarity, and presumes that others will take what he says as gospel, as if the law is being written as it is being said.  Trump operates in much of the same manner.  He believes that his insights on national topics are relevant because he is a success.  He can publicly weigh out a run for the political office of President because of his success and his wealth.  His abilty to speak of issues such as 9/11 or Rosie O'Donnell are only accepted, or entertained because of his wealth.  In this manner, Tom and Trump are fairly similar.

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