Question: Tom Buchanan shows up at Gatsby’s mansion with two other men.
Note the way in which the three men treat Gatsby and comment on the
significance of this scene. How might this be read with a critical lens?
The scene in question took place in chapter 6 of the novel and involved the characters of Tom Buchanan, a man named Sloan, and a female of unknown name. They arrived at Gatsby's mansion on a Sunday afternoon and behaved quite indecently towards their host, not bothering to display any signs of common courtesy or state the nature of their visit. They left soon after in a very humiliating way from Gatsby's prospective as he was under the impression he would accompany them, however they left without him simply allowing Nick to explain they could not wait.
In regards to the novel, this scene serves to convey Tom's dislike of Gatsby and belief that he belongs to a lower social class than himself. This information is crucial to readers as it carries on throughout the rest of the novel and can be seen as one of Gatsby's ultimate goals - to gain entrance into this "secret society" to which he does not belong.
This scene in the book can easily be read through a Marxist lens by focusing on the apparent social disconnect between Tom and Gatsby. Tom and his friends belong to a society of the wealthy and the rich, their names carry great weight and have an established lineage. This is in contrast to Gatsby, who is wealthy but has no family history or established roots and is referred to as "newly rich", therefore he is viewed as bellow them and is treated as such. In this context, Gatsby represents the oppressed lower class while Tom, Sloan and their female accomplice embody the oppressive upper class. When they arrive, Gatsby is visibly anxious and tense and begins to quickly offer up any sort of item to appease them, the narrator making a point to state, "that was all they really came for.". When all his offers were refused, Gatsby attempted to make conversation, however his guest replied with minimal engagement and made an effort to cut him off mid sentence. A great example of this is when Gatsby attempts to start a conversation about automobiles, "I suppose the automobiles-", but before he could finish, Mr. Sloan flatly replies with, "Yeah.". This sort of behavior serves to embarrass and humiliate Gatsby and cement the three's authority over him.
In conclusion, the scene in chapter 6, where Tom Buchanan, Sloan, and an unnamed female visit Gatsby's mansion, can be viewed through a Marxist lens where their Gatsby is the socially oppressed and his guests are the oppressors.