Tom accuses Gatsby of being a Mr Nobody from Nowhere. Discuss the implication of this phrase, both for Gatsby's character and themes of the novel as whole.

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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gatsby has built an empire and his fortune with the goal of getting back together with Daisy, his long-lost love. How he got his money is a source of much rumor and he keeps his background as secret as he can amongst the high society that he invites to his lavish parties.

But Tom knows that Gatsby is not from a wealthy family, he knows that he is "new money" and as such considers him to be beneath the level of society and class that he and Daisy live on. The implication is that there is an obstacle to the American dream of wealth that cannot be overcome simply through hard work and good luck and the acquisition of a fortune.

The irony of course is that Tom is likely the most boorish and least "civilized" character in the story. He uses other people anytime it suits him and basically leads Wilson on to the point that he decides to kill Gatsby. The irony of this is an important insight into another theme in the book which is the emptiness of wealth and the illusion that people of the highest social and economic class are somehow better than people with less money or a less sophisticated background.

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The Great Gatsby

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