How are Tom and Gatsby alike and how are they different in The Great Gatsby?

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A small feature, but one that should be noted, is that Tom is from "old money" and Gatsby is "new money".  In a time when the American aristocracy was evaporating, this conflict between old and new shows in the way that Nick reacts to his time in New York.  He...

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A small feature, but one that should be noted, is that Tom is from "old money" and Gatsby is "new money".  In a time when the American aristocracy was evaporating, this conflict between old and new shows in the way that Nick reacts to his time in New York.  He is from old traditions, and New York has become a new world of sorts, sans tradition and in some cases, sans morals.  The separation between Tom and Gatsby is representative of the fact that they live on separate "eggs" on Long Island.  Gatsby struggles because, no matter how much money he has, he will never be as accepted as Tom because his money is not rooted in family and history.

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There is a lot that can be used to compare Tom and Gatsby in the book. Just consider the interactions they both have with Daisy.

Tom and Gatsby do not really know who Daisy is. By that I mean they both have a preconceived notion of what they need her to be. Tom needs her to look good and not question him too much. While he is a philanderer, it never occurs to him that she would do the same to him. He assumes that by marrying her, he has fulfilled her dreams.

Gatsby wants Daisy, but it is the Daisy of his fantasies that he is really in love with. The Daisy in his fantasies is swept away by his new-found wealth, and they live happily ever after. But Gatsby does not think of the real Daisy, not the fact that she has a husband, or a child, or that she is flighty.

Tom and Gatsby are different with respect to Daisy , as well. Tom is dismissive of his wife. He doesn't appear to hear anything she says. Daisy is used to it, as well. If you notice, most of her comments are rhetorical. Gatsby listens, but he puts his own connotations on her words. While he does talk to her, he changes the context of the conversations to suit his idea of what she would say.

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