The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby Nick Carraway Quotes
His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked—and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts. (1.20)
Wealth makes Tom "paternal," as though it gives him the right to tell the entire world how to behave. But remember—he didn't earn the wealth. He's literally done nothing to deserve it. So why does he get to be mean-dad to everyone?
There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and he champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his motor-boats slid the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. (3.1)
All that wealth can't fill the hole in Gatsby's heart—but it probably makes it a little easier to bear. Also, notice the insect imagery? The men and girls like "moths"; the station wagon like a "brisk yellow bug"? What's up with that?
The idea staggered me. I remembered, of course, that the World's Series had been fixed in 1919, but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely happened, the end of some inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people – with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe. (4.113)
Meyer Wolfsheim fixed the World Series, an enormous crime that Nick thinks is like "a burglar blowing a safe." But the burglar gets caught; Wolfsheim uses his wealth and underworld connections to stay squeaky clean. Apparently you don't have to be high class to benefit from your wealth.