Homework Help

Why does Tom's defense of family life and traditional institutions amuse Nick?

user profile pic

adrian23 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 26, 2010 at 6:13 AM via web

dislike 2 like

Why does Tom's defense of family life and traditional institutions amuse Nick?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 26, 2010 at 7:11 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

Tom's defense of traditional and family values in The Great Gatsby amuses Nick because Tom is being so hypocritical.  Tom spouts cliches like he's a Bible preacher who's always been conservative and has always placed his family first above all else:

Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions and next they'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white.

This from a man who is in the midst of an extra-marital affair.  Not only is Tom hypocritical, but he is also bigoted and illogical.  He demonstrates faulty logic--what does sneering at family life have to do with interracial marriage?

Nick sums Tom's speech up well:

Angry as I was, as we all were, I was tempted to laugh whenever he opened his mouth.  The transition from libertine to prig was so complete.

When Tom has an affair it's okay, but when Daisy becomes involved with Gatsby, it's sneering at marriage and will ultimately lead to interracial marriage.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes