The Great Gatsby
Throughout the novel, The Great Gatsby is a story about the prominence of materialism and idealism in the American society in the 1920’s. The author Francis Scott Fitzgerald sculpts each character to symbolize the themes of materialism versus idealism. Out of Fitzgerald’s close examination into the lives of the major characters, Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Jordan Baker, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, develops the final theme of materialism corrupting American idealism. Tom Buchanan, exemplifies how materialism alters morality and values, but at the same time is all a person needs to succeed in the competitive society of the 1920’s.
Residing in East Egg, with his wife Daisy and daughter Pammy , Tom is a member of the "established rich" class. Their Georgian Colonial mansion distinctly represents their "established" wealth. He shows his pride and arrogance towards his wealth as he tells Nick, "I’ve got a nice place here." Ironically, these are the first words that Tom utters in the novel. His residence is significant later in the book as Daisy becomes involved with Gatsby, a member of the "newly rich."
Tom is first introduced into the novel when narrator, Nick, visits the house for a dinner party. Nick is the distant cousin of Daisy, and an old college acquaintance of Tom. Fitzgerald first describes Tom by stating his dominance and brutality, "It was a body capable of enormous leverage - a cruel body." Fitzgerald also portrays Tom’s overbearing attitude through his second handed scientific knowledge. Tom states, "It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or those other races will have control of things." Tom, along with the majority of the upper class American citizens at that time believed in theories, such as Darwinism, about maintaining their status quo. They feared that the lower class would rise to overthrow them. Ironically, this is exactly what happened later in the novel when Gatsby threatens to take away Daisy....