Student Question

How does Tom's self-image mirror Gatsby's dream of Daisy in The Great Gatsby?

Expert Answers

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Tom's lack of emotional affect and his lack of reflection helps him to cling to his image of himself.  Tom surrounds himself and insulates himself with his own inflated sense of ego.  The manner in which he carries himself as part of the East Egg social setting, as well as his assertions about the world (expressed to Nick in the opening exchange), and the fact that his mistress is of a lower social setting and designation than his own reflects how he carries himself in a manner that substantiates his own supposed superiority.  Along with these, the very idea of how he carries himself reflects just how much he loves himself and clings to the image of him being, well, him.  The overall impression the reader has of this character is his physical power and brute strength. He is a fairly one-dimensional figure in this sense.  Tom does not necessarily display anything else in the novel that does not reflect a sense of self love.  He is in love with his own supposed elevated sense of self, and the zeal with which he loves himself is almost matched by the selfless sense of devotion that Gatsby has for his wife.

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