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In Chapter six, how does Tom sense immediately that Gatsby is a bootlegger, selling...

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volume | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 17, 2008 at 8:42 AM via web

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In Chapter six, how does Tom sense immediately that Gatsby is a bootlegger, selling booze to speakeasies?

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 17, 2008 at 8:03 PM (Answer #1)

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When Nick asks Tom where he had heard that Gatsby is a bootlegger, Tom says “I didn’t hear it. I imagined it. A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers” (114).  Gatsby is very visibly successful:  he displays an ostentatious opulence in his parties, his house, and even the way he dresses.  Tom distrusts anyone who could have so much money and show it as Gatsby does. It would annoy Tom that anyone could “get rich quick,” and he would immediately attribute doing so to talents that are unsavory or at least denigrate the talents any other many might evince.  That is why he says “just,” indicating success as a bootlegger does not count as real success. Tom  is prejudiced, narrow minded, arrogant, and violent as well, quick to criticize others, especially if it makes him feel more powerful, more manly.

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