The Purpose of Tom Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby”
Tom Buchanan is a football player from Chicago whose family is extremely rich, he studied at Yale with Nick, and he is the husband of Daisy (Gatsby’s lover). He came to New York, and lives in East egg which is the place for the “Old rich”. Tom Buchanan is a very arrogant person with no real moral values, and a hypocritical bully. He is incapable of feeling guilty or emotional and he represents racism in this novel. In the novel, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Buchanan’s purpose is to serve as foil to the characters Gatsby and George Wilson. A foil is a character who contrasts with another character; it is used to make the traits of the other character emphasized. Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby are completely opposite characters, and are developed as foil characters based on their characteristics, how they got wealthy, their goals in life, and their love they have for Daisy. In the novel “The Great Gatsby”, Tom is portrayed as a very brutal and cruel person. He is arrogant and extremely racist and treats women as secondary beings. He shows less respect towards women; He even sees his wife Daisy as an unimportant and less superior person than him. “Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with rather hard mouth and supercilious manner.
Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward… It was a body of enormous leverage – a cruel body” (Fitzgerald pg. 7), this quote gives a detailed description on how Tom Buchanan is portrayed in this novel. Meanwhile, Gatsby is very calm and gentle character who shows and treats every person with the same respect because he knew what it was like being in the low class or poor. He treats daisy like a precious diamond, he would do anything to get her and give up anything for her. Another reason why Gatsby and Tom are completely opposite characters is because how they got wealthy. In the novel, both of the characters are rich, but Gatsby is the “the new money”, and Tom is the “Old money”.
Tom had his money for many years including his parents and his grandparents. Meanwhile, Gatsby is part of the new money society who recently just got wealthy; He was part of a poor family in North Dakota and worked as a janitor, then quit his job because of humiliation and went into organized crime like bootlegging with Meyer Wolfsheim and gains all his money. “He and this Wolfshiem bought up a lot of Side-Street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong.” (Fitzgerald pg. 133), this quote talks about how Gatsby made his money illegally. In this novel, Gatsby’s main goal was to be rich in the society like other people and get Daisy back. Meanwhile, Tom does not have any goals at all; he is just enjoying all his money. Also, another reason why Gatsby and Tom are different characters because of their love towards Daisy. Even though Tom is Daisy’s husband, he does not care for her much; He is not very loyal too, and has an affair with another woman named Mrytle Wilson. On the other hand, Gatsby loves Daisy a lot and treats her like a precious diamond and puts in a lot of effort to make her happy; He is very loyal to her and basically became rich for Daisy. “She didn’t like it,’ he insisted. ‘She didn’t have a good time” (Fitzgerald pg. 109), this quote proves how much he cares for Daisy because she did not enjoy the party that was hosted by Gatsby which makes him very depressed.
Overall, Tom Buchanan and Gatsby are completely different characters and serve as foil characters. In this novel, Tom Buchanan also serves as a foil to George Wilson because of their wealth, and their characteristics. In this novel, Tom Buchanan is extremely rich and he is part of the “Old money” society and gets all of his money from his family. Meanwhile, George Wilson is the owner of an auto shop in the valley of ashes; He works very hard and does not do any illegal things, but still does not achieve the American Dream. “Michaelis advised him to go to bed, but Wilson refused, saying that he’d miss a lot of business if he did.” ( Fitzgerald pg.136), this quote proves that Wilson is poor because even though he is sick, he is poor and needs that money; So he cannot take a day off because of his bad health condition.
Another reason why Tom serves as a foil to Wilson is because of his characteristics. Tom is a brutal man and cruel man who even slapped a woman. “Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (Fitzgerald pg.37), this quote shows how brutal Tom is because he broke Mrtyle’s nose. Meanwhile, Wilson is just like Gatsby who is gentle and very calm. Overall, Tom Buchanan also serves as a foil character to George Wilson in this novel. Overall, Tom Buchanan purpose in the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is to serve as foil to the characters Jay Gatsby and George
Wilson. This essay proves that how Tom Buchanan served as a foil character.