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Review Seminar - The Great Gatsby - Tom Buchanan
Transcript of Review Seminar - The Great Gatsby - Tom Buchanan
Appearance - East Egg
Established money, peaceful living, lots of land
Old world ideals, high moral values
Tom lives a comfortable and luxurious life
Perfect life, a wife, a child, servants and all the nice things
Tom mocks the working class
Comfortable with high status and in his social class
Reality - New York
Symbolized uninhibited amoral quest for money and pleasure. It was loud and busy and considered a place to escape
Represented Tom's place of escape. It was his love nest for him and Myrtle
Immoral act of having an affair. He was loud and crazy in his apartment. Let loose more partying
He did not see his life as perfect
Tom choices are all down grades
In New York Tom has no land, no servants, a smaller dwelling, no need for vehicles and can't have horses
The apartment is hidden away from onlookers and Tom can be his true self
Tom seems more comfortable, and with himself with Myrtle in the apartment as opposed to East Egg where he is uncomfortable and on edge
Feels at home with working class
Tom is from East Egg
He has established wealth
Tom's family is old money or at least see themselves this way
He establishes his wealth through family legacy
Has valued etiquette, subtlety, fashion, manners and grace
Tom has a Georgian house classic in design and his cars have a muted tone.
According to Europeans he would be considered new money
His family is from Chicago and had a Meat Packing Legacy (slaughtered meat)
He complains about Gatsby's circus wagon car (appearance) but brags about his horses however, aristocracy does not boast
Review Seminar - The Great Gatsby
By Beth Clipper
One of the major themes in F. Scott Fitzgerald's
The Great Gatsby
is that of appearance versus. reality. Fitzgerald questions the appearance and realities of the wealthy upper class. He uses the character of Tom Buchanan to reveal this theme and explain the illusion of the upper class in the 1920s. Tom is not comfortable or happy, nor does he live the American Dream, as he feels he is entitled to more. Tom is not who he seems to be, he is not superior because he is never really satisfied with his life.
Sports sociologists believe that sport is part of our social and cultural way of life. Sports that use the body physically to score points are associated with the middle or working class. Middle or working class people were considered rowdy, physical, loud and so were the sports they played. Sports that used club like that of golf, tennis, polo are associated with the upper class. Upper class people were considered refined, well mannered and so were the sports they played. These sports required money, etiquette, less physical exertion. Sports people played represented their social class.
He fits into the upper class ideology of sport
He played and liked polo; a sport associated with the upper class and all the characteristics of the sport
As Nick describes Tom's affiliation with polo when he says "Drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people play polo and were rich together" (page 11). This gives the assumption that Tom likes polo.
It is difficult for Tom to fit into this world of upper class sport as he was physical aggressive man
When Nick describes Tom, he talks about his physical appearance, "Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body..." (page 12). "It was a body of enormous leverage- a cruel body" (page 12). This is a metaphor to his personality. He was a football player from New Haven. He was a powerful end.
In the novel when Gatsby introduces Tom as the polo player Tom replies "'Oh no', ' objected Tom quickly, 'not me'" (page 110). In the film Tom also twice says "I'd rather not be the polo player" while looking agitated. This shows Tom is clearly uncomfortable with not only polo but his role in the social class.
Tom's power was grounded in his physicality and inability to settle down. He was unable to stay in one place moving all the time and guilty of infidelity. He was uncomfortable with being forced to hide his power and that is why he participated in Polo. Polo is a metaphor for appearance, bu the reality is he did not like it.
Tom is physically strong and dominating and thus loved football. He did not fit into the upper class ideology that once he became an adult he had to behave as a man.
Tom achieved everything at 21 and as Nick describes it everything after that was anti-climatic. He was a football player and a popular figure at Yale, but now her was reduced to living off the wealth of his family and no longer popular like Gatsby was.
Tom was lost in this upper class world as Nick says, "I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game." (page 12)
Daisy is a prized wife acquired by Tom and she puts up with his indiscretions because she likes the lifestyle
He likes his life with Daisy and is his life is in order
By being unfaithful Daisy is just an object to him so he can conform to the social order
Tom around others appears to be happy with Daisy
Myrtle is an object of Tom's desires
Tom is chauvinistic and wants to keep up his lifestyle with Daisy and have his affairs too
He is more comfortable with Myrtle who is not from a family of stature; she lacks traditional values, elegance and manners of the high-class women. Tom can control her and she will stay with him even though is is abusive. He broke her nose and showed no remorse.
When Tom finds out Daisy has been running around he does not like it. Ironically it is okay for Myrtle to be running around on George. "By God, I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit me." (page 100)
Tom has no moral issues about having his own extramarital affair with Myrtle, but when he suspects Daisy with fooling around he becomes angry and confrontational. "'Self Control!' repeated Tom incredulously. 'I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife.
Tom is a hypocrite and wants control, one woman is not enough
Tom is an honest businessman who has climbed who does not partake in corruption
He feels he is above the people form West Egg and is from a higher social class and only associates himself with this
appears confident about his place in society
Tom is seen in the same club with criminals like Meyer Wolfsheim and Gatsby.
Tom's appearance as a noble upper class man is questioned when he exposes Gatsby with having ties to bootlegging. "'What about it?' said Gatsby politely. 'I guess your friend Walter Chase wasn't too proud to come in on it." (page 127)
Ironically Tom criticizes Gatsby's associations with organized crime, but when Tom is linked to a shady character it is okay. This is a double standard. He is deceptive.
Tom feels threatened by the revolutionary period. He says, "it is up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch our or those other races will have control over things." (page 18)
He further shows his racism when he says "Nowadays people begin sneering at family life and family institutions and next they'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white." (page 124)
Joel Edgerton is the actor who played Tom Buchanan in
The Great Gatsby
sat down for an interview and discussed what it was like to play the character of Tom. It further gives us insight into Tom's true nature.
Question to think about ?
Appearance versus Reality
Appearance - the way that someone or something looks. An act or impression given by someone or something
Tom's appearance is a powerful character, he is a wealthy, popular, athletic well known man with a loving family.
Reality - the state or quality of being real
Tom is not satisfied with his life and wants more. He craves power through his relationships and needs to be in control. He needs to be above everyone else which makes him paranoid and egotistical. He is self centered, insecure, has unstable relationships and hides behind "old order" money.
Tom believes he should be on top of society because of his money and power, but this is not enough for him, he is not happy with his life. He is not satisfied and feels he needs more excitement, he craves power and feels he deserves more. As a result of his arrogance that he should embody the American dream, Tom will use people around him at all costs. Nick explains Tom's motivations when he says, "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-they smashed up this and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the they had made..." (page 170). Tom just did not care about others. F.Scot Fitzgerald develops the character of Tom and uses the appearance versus reality theme to illustrate the failed illusion of the American Dream.
How does Fitzgerald use the theme, appearance versus reality to reveal the true character of Tom Buchanan and the embodiment of the American dream? Is he really an imposter?
"I'd rather not be the polo player "