Old Money, Clever & Selfish

Tom Buchanan

His Dream

Tom's dream was to gain all of his respect back after an incident happened during his college football career. "Forever seeking…the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game" (pg 8). He will never forget about what had happened.

Things that cost him to get to his dream:

- Marriage
Tom didn't really have much at cost except for the three most important things.His marriage, his reputation, and money. Daisy was just something he owned and he didn't treat her like his wife. And it is the same for Daisy, she doesn't care about her husband either. As if his absence made her happy or something, Daisy got happy and started glowing and singing (Fitzgerald pg. 14).
"The telephone rang inside, startling, and as daisy shook her head decisively at tom the subject of the stables, in fact all subjects, vanished into air."(pg. 15) But later when she realized that Nick was watching, she went and told Tom to get off the phone. She didn't want a bad reputation or rumors.
Not many people made fun of Tom or talked about his reputation except for Nick. He once said, "I was tempted to laugh whenever he opened his mouth" (pg. 139). Basically stating that whatever he says doesn't make sense to him nor will he listen to him. "Mr. Nobody from Nowhere" (pg. 138) Insulting his reputation because Tom is ultra rich and known but he still makes that statement about him.
- Money
Even though his family is rich, his money or money in general, was important for him (pg. 15). It cost him his money because he had to buy things for Daisy and Myrtle. And he used to spend it on Car racing and other stuff that entertains him. Daisy and Myrtle aren't the type of girls who think before spending. They just ask for it and Tom has to get it. He does it to keep Daisy in control of him and she would if she got whatever she got. Same for Myrtle.


I think the color Green represents Tom because he loves his money and that's all he really cares about, apart from being above than Gatsby and every other rich person he knows. "I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light" (pg. 25). This green light is across the sea where the Buchanan's house is supposed to be. Gatsby says, "You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock" (p. 90); "Now it was again a green light on a dock" (p. 90). The light is around the Tom's house. In this novel green also means "not faded" as in remembered.

Character Traits

A man of brute strength and power, arrogant and malicious, Tom Buchanan is clearly the villain of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Very self-absorbed and proud of his wealth and the power it brings, Tom haughtily displays his property to Nick, explaining that he has had his polo ponies brought from the wealthy Chicago suburb of River Forest to East Egg. His wife Daisy, whom he has purchased with an expensive necklace, is mere property to him, too, as he thinks nothing of receiving phone calls at home from his mistress Myrtle. Yet, he is angered when Daisy presumes to love Gatsby. With much duplicity of character, although he has a mistress, Tom announces that he has had Gatsby's background investigated and asks Gatsby "what kind of a row" he tries to cause in his house. And, when Daisy tells him to have some self-control, he retorts,"Self control!...I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that 's the idea you can count me out..."(Fitzgerald) . Above all else, Tom Buchanan is villainous because he destroys Gatsby and his romantic dream. For, he conspires with Daisy to allow Mr. Wilson to believe that it has been Gatsby himself who has driven the "yellow death car" that has stricken Myrtle, rather than Daisy. Labeled by Nick as a "careless person" Tom Buchanan smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into his money or vast carelessness and let other people clean up the mess(Fitzgerald). A selfish brute, Tom Buchanan represents the self-centered, amoral, and supercilious wealthy of the East Coast that Fitzgerald himself encountered and found reprehensible in their conduct.

A Symbol that represents Tom Buchanan

Tom Buchanan is a symbol of the shallowness and carelessness of the very rich. Because he plays with cars and race horses, has sordid affairs, and treats Daisy shabbily. She, however, will always remain with Tom, for he offers her security and the life style to which she is accustomed. But Tom really doesn't care about anything, all he cares about is how to get or stay above people.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. Print.