In his alert, aggressive way, his hands out a little from his body as if to fight off interference, his head moving sharply here and there, adapting itself to his restless eyes.

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter IX) on Rap Genius

Meaning

Nick spends much time describing Tom’s physical presence throughout the novel, as in this scene from Chapter I:

He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body — he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage — a cruel body.

Also in the opening chapter, Tom’s eyes are likewise described as “restless,” a quality that links many of the characters in the book as well as Fitzgerald and other members of the so-called “Lost Generation” who were unsettled by World War I.

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