Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby show both similarities and differences throughout the novel, The Great Gatsby. This essay discusses the characteristics that prove Gatsby's and Tom's unlikeness, as well as their alikeness. Two wealthy men who love the same woman must share some common characteristics, however, Daisy, the most important woman in both their lives, only picks one of them, so there must be some differences. .
Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan display their differences through their wealth, their temper and their social aspects. Tom, from East Egg, and Gatsby, from West Egg, display a significant difference in how they earn their money. Mr.Buchanan was born into his old money riches, whereas Gatsby comes from nothing, working his way to the top by laboring on Dan Cody's Yacht and illegally bootlegging. Considering Tom is born with money and privilege, he is used to spending his money very casually. On the same note, Gatsby spends his money with ease too, but for a different purpose. " 'Why [Tom and Daisy] came East I don't know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together' " (Fitzgerald 19). As Nick Carraway mentions in this quote, Tom uses his earnings to travel particularly for his affairs and for pleasure, although Gatsby sees his money as the one thing that can win him his happiness, Daisy, which is why they could not marry five years prior. An example of Gatsby's selflessness with his wealth is when he purchases a dress for Lucille: " 'When I was here last I tore my gown on a chair, and [he] asked me my name and address – inside of a week I got a package from Croirier's with a new evening gown in it' " (25). Lucille expresses her surprise when Gatsby replaces her torn dress at his party. " 'It was gas blue with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars' " (25).