Under The Shell Essay

1038 words - 5 pages

Under the Shell

In "The Great Gatsby," Tom is one of the most enigmatic, vivid and compelling characters. He openly broaches his racism, temperament and sexism as if he has no apprehension in the world. However, there is much more to his character than it seems. Tom uses his bulkiness and husky voice to mask his loneliness in order to escape reality. His loneliness can be seen through his constant venery of women, inability to settle down in one location and through his fear of losing control. Escaping reality, however, is only temporary and his pusillanimity to face his true self throughout the course of the novel catches up to him in the end.

Though Tom appears to have “a cruel body” ...view middle of the document...

This isn’t the only time that Tom tries to prove that he’s not what “[Nick thinks]” (121); he’s not “dumb” (121). He mentions that “[he] read somewhere that the sun’s getting hotter every year” (118); yet, he seems to merely skim the pages, as he can’t remember whether the sun is getting hotter or cooler. Also, When Tom suspects that Nick doubts him, he immediately argues that “maybe [Nick doesn’t] believe [him], but science…”(121), as if to prove to Nick and himself that he has a lot of knowledge in a wide range of topics.

Though Tom lacks confidence and suffers loneliness, he masks his delicate inner self within an impermeable hard shell. In order to mask his fear, he is constantly hiding in the shell in which he asserts himself as a powerful man who controls everyone else. He controls Daisy's everyday life and orders her around. Despite her unwillingness, Tom “[presses] her with his hand” (121) toward the car, as if using force to make her obey. Also, when Daisy attempts to ride around with Gatsby, Tom immediately disagrees, forcing her to “follow [him]”(125) with the sole excuse of “[not being able] to argue about it [in public]” (125). Even toward Nick, “…Tom Buchanan [compels him]… as though he [is] moving a checker to another square ”. When Myrtle seems to be out of control and begins yelling Daisy's name, he “[makes] a short deft movement…[and breaks] her nose with his open hand” (37) out of the fear that two people dear to him will clash and in the end, leave him. Even though he affiliates himself with both Daisy and Myrtle, he masks his fear of being abandoned by acting as if he doesn’t engage in emotional relationships. He marries Daisy, yet, he doesn’t appear when Daisy is giving birth and the baby is “less than one hour old” (16-17). Tom causes many problems in the places that he settles in. Each time, he doesn't settle down and face the...

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