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Why Is Tom Buchanan's Relationship Important In The Great Gatsby

Powerful Essays
In the very beginning of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway says, “A sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth” (1). This quote refers not only to a human kindness, but also to the socioeconomic positioning of people and the primacy of unequal economic station in romantic relationships. The significance of economics in romantic relationships can be seen in all three of the major relationships on the novel: Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker, and Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. The socioeconomic status of each person and their respective sign-exchange value in their relationships are important points of analysis. Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson’s relationship is can be explained by their…show more content…
Both parties keep the affair a closely held secret, Gatsby even “dismissed every servant in his house […] and replaced them with half a dozen others, who never went into West Egg Village to be bribed by tradesmen, but ordered moderate supplies over the phone” (113). Neither individual has anything socially or economically to gain from this secret relationship. Although the current relationship has no exchange value, the end goal of it, from Gatsby’s point of view, is a culmination of the ultimate sign-exchange value. This end goal is where he achieves the highest part of the upper class with a beautiful woman straight from his youthful dreams. In order for either of them to gain some sign-exchange value, the relationship would have to be revealed, which Daisy is not willing to do. I agree with Suzanne Del Gizzo’s emphasis on symbols in her article for The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review where she states: “Gatsby relies on commodities - car, house, clothes - to buttress his self-made identity. He believes that the right mix of objects (with Daisy as the crowning piece in the collection) will magically open the gates to the highest level of the American upper class for him” (Del Gizzo 84). To Gatsby, Daisy is more of a symbol of the upper class “aristocracy” than she is a human woman. When it becomes briefly apparent to Gatsby that Daisy is more than just a symbol, he loses part of the fantasy; “Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. […] Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one” (Fitzgerald 94). This fantasy is also reduced when Gatsby appears to have attained Daisy, “Intimacy destroys the meaning of Gatsby's objects because it reveals their reality” (Del Gizzo 86). In the current form of their affair,
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