The Great Gatsby Chp 1 Essay

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Section 1) – what impression do we get of Tom Buchanan in the opening Chapter? With a “hulking” presence and an undeniable masculinity, Tom Buchanan is the obvious foil to the romanticism of Jay Gatsby; his coarse presence, “cruel body” and irresponsible behaviour reflects not only a personal moral lacking but the sense of apathy that for Fitzgerald characterised the directionless and immoral “jazz age’ of the Roaring ‘20’s. While Nick focuses on the “gorgeous rags” and “winning smile” of Gatsby, it is the physical force of Tom that is impressed upon him, leading Nick to comment on the “packs of muscle” and “enormous power”; yet this physical presence takes on a more sinister aspect, as Daisy complains of bruised finger caused by Tom’s carelessness. The later revelation of Tom’s involvement in a car crash suggests he is what Jordan would deem to be “a careless driver”, or as Nick puts it, “someone who smashes things and people up”. This arrogance and disregard is expressed further by a “paternal contempt” for even those he liked, and it is even suggested his Daisy married him because of “unquestionable practicality.” Although his wealth has ensured security and comfort, it has been said that it is instrumental in the decay and erosion of his moral values. Afforded the opportunity to “drift here and there”, Tom represents a whole strata of society left despondent and aimless after the turbulence of WW1, and like Tom, Fitzgerald felt this ‘lost generation’ was “forever seeking….dramatic turbulence”. Of course, the irony must be noted that while Tom was drifting around France, it was men like Gatsby and nick who were actually in the throws of war.

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