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The Great Gatsby illustrates Tom getting irritated and angry while driving to the city as a result of noticing the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby, and no one informing him of it: “Did you see that?” …“You think I’m pretty dumb, don’t you?”… He paused. The immediate contingency overtook him, pulled him back from the edge of the theoretical abyss” (121). Tom is starting to catch on that Daisy might be cheating on him with Gatsby, but he has no right to be upset; he is doing the same thing with Myrtle!
Tom’s realization also supports his beliefs in rules not applying to him because he is higher than everyone else. Jordan Baker, one of Daisy’s friends, sums up Tom’s feelings toward Gatsby in one statement: “Listen, Tom. If you’re such a snob, why did you invite him to lunch?” demanded Jordan crossly” (122). If Tom has “made a small investigation of this fellow” (122); and concludes that he doesn’t like him, then why does he invite him places and attend his party?
Before Nick goes to dinner with the Buchanans, he fills us in on Tom’s privileged life: “Her husband…a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy” (Fitzgerald 6). This passage illustrates Tom’s trouble-free access to masses of money. With this money comes power and obviously this power has made Tom feel like he is at liberty to anything. Paul Krugman also states this in his article: “And among the undeniably rich, a belligerent sense of entitlement has taken hold”
Another one of Tom’s amazing traits is having self-pity.
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Throughout The Great Gatsby, Tom is concerned with one person, himself. He starts out by belittling Nick and his opinion by saying: “just because I’m stronger and more of a man than you are” (7). Then he decides to enlighten Jordan, Daisy, and Nick about a book:
“…Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?”…“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”…“This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”…“This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and ——” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. “— And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization — oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?”(Fitzgerald 12-13).
He is suggesting that the white race, including him of course, is the savor of all civilizations. He also cheats on his wife because Daisy wasn’t keeping him content: ‘You mean to say you don’t know?” said Miss Baker, honestly surprised. “I thought everybody knew.” “I don’t.” “Why ——” she said hesitantly, “Tom’s got some woman in New York” (Fitzgerald 15). Tom is so self-centered that he wasn’t around for his own daughter: “It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about — things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where…” (Fitzgerald 16).
Paul Krugman explained the élite and rich spot on when he wrote: “But the angry minority is angry indeed, consisting of people who feel that things to which they are entitled are being taken away” (Krugman), and: “Self-pity among the privileged has become acceptable, even fashionable” (Krugman). The rich are have anger, self-pity, and self-righteousness, but for all the wrong reasons. They aren’t angry for the lower and working class, instead they have self-pity, and self-righteousness, once again proving that like Tom Buchanan, from The Great Gatsby, and the types of people that Krugman discusses in his article, “The Angry Rich”: “if you want to find real political rage — the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason — you won’t find it among these suffering Americans. You’ll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes” (“The Angry Rich”)