TOM

The Great Gatsby

Tom's Dream

Tom’s Dream lies within the world he was brought up in. “His family was enormously wealthy...(Fitzgerald)” And growing up this way allowed Tom to do whatever he pleased. Nick even speculated that, “it was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough...(Fitzgerald)” to have the life that Tom had. Tom loved being a “national figure,” (Fitzgerald) and enjoyed his top dog supremacy. Tom could control his life and everyone that fell into it. Nothing was as important as his justified right to power.

Coast of Tom's Dream

Tom’s Dream cost him what little power and control he thought he had. As Tom began to lose grip of his life Nick commented that,”...tears were overflowing down his (Tom’s) face. (Fitzgerald)" Tom knows no other reality than the one he controls, and without his control, Tom would be lost. In his dire need for stability, “his hand, trembling with his effort at self-control...(Fitzgerald)” Tom is taken aback to a world where he is not king. The events that take place throughout the novel, “...pulled him back from the edge of the theoretical abyss. (Fitzgerald)” This shift of Tom’s world is not welcomed, and he will do anything to make things right for him. In the end, the cost of Tom’s dream only pushes him to be more childlike and controlling.

Tom's Character Traits

Tom is very controlling and childlike. He, “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into...money or...vast carelessness...” in order to protect himself and his belongings. Tom always, “...insisted with magnanimous scorn.” and pushed his views on anyone and everyone. Because of his childlike and controlling dominor, Tom is greatly disliked, but his status in society allowed him to take the top spot in all he does. He moved and manipulated people as if he were,”...moving a checker to another square.” Yet in his control-like state he was so careless that he lost sight of reality. Tom has a very childlike outlook on the world he thinks he lives in. (Fitzgerald)

Tom's Color

Red is described as a color that is filled with, “excitement, speed, strength, power, aggression, and all things intense and passionate.(Symbolism)” These words fully describe Tom and his evolution throughout The Great Gatsby. Tom’s need for control allows him to to break his mistresses, “...nose with his open hand.(Fitzgerald)” and spill blood as long as it is not his own. His anger is like, “...compressed heat...(Fitzgerald)” that explodes with the slightest action against him. Tom is filled with such passionate and intense energy that he lacks the moral capacity to make wise decisions. Tom was willing to tell Wilson, who wants to shoot dead whoever ran over his wife, that Gatsby was the driver of the car. With this information Wilson kills Gatsby, and Tom justifies his decision to blame Gatsby with, “He was crazy enough to kill me if I hadn’t told him who owned the car....That fellow (Gatsby) had it coming to him.(Fitzgerald)” Tom felt completely justified in his decision, like he had no part in Gatsby’s death. Tom’s need for absolute power drove him through most of his decisions in the novel.

Tom's Symbol

Tom sits upon a throne. Historically speaking, “those with old money may be able to trace royal or aristocratic connections that go back many generations.(Bown-Wilson)” Whether or not Tom had those connections, he sure acted like he did. He proclaimed that a lot of, “newly rich people are just big bootleggers...(Fitzgerald)” thus saying that only he was dignified enough to carry the title of being wealthy. Not only was Tom the only one dignified to be called wealthy, he also based the success of others on his own knowledge of their accomplishments. Tom readily replies, “never heard of them.(Fitzgerald)” and a conversation about the company and/or person is ceased. He simply dismisses them, but for Tom not even his family values are moral. Tom rants on about the sanctity of family and the importance of its institution, when in reality he is breaking his supposed “values” on the family. “Once in awhile I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back...(Fitzgerald)” Tom deserves a throne because in the end his views on others and himself are all that matter.

Work Cited

Works Cited


Bown-Wilson, Dianne. "Definition of Old Money Versus New Money | eHow.com." eHow | How to Videos, Articles & More - Discover the expert in you. | eHow.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. <http://www.ehow.com/about_6575904_definition-money-versus-new-money.html#ixzz2FSElqcFO>.


Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby . New York: Scribner, 1925. Print.


"Symbolism of Color: Using Color for Meaning." Incredible Art Department | Art Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. <http://incredibleart.org/lessons/middle/color2.htm>.



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Michelle Mayes