In chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby Why won't Nick shake Tom's hand?

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In chapter 9, Nick recalls seeing Tom Buchanan one last time walking in front of him on Fifth Avenue and attempts to avoid speaking to Tom. However, Tom sees Nick, walks back towards him, and sticks his hand out to shake Nick's hand. Nick initially refuses to shake Tom's...

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In chapter 9, Nick recalls seeing Tom Buchanan one last time walking in front of him on Fifth Avenue and attempts to avoid speaking to Tom. However, Tom sees Nick, walks back towards him, and sticks his hand out to shake Nick's hand. Nick initially refuses to shake Tom's hand because he is completely disgusted with Tom's personality, lifestyle, and recent behavior. When Tom comments on Nick's refusal to shake his hand, Nick asks Tom what he told Wilson the night Myrtle was murdered. Nick is aware that Tom told Wilson that Jay Gatsby killed his wife and is partially responsible for Gatsby's death. Nick was close friends with Gatsby and is still upset that Tom led Wilson to Gatsby's home. Furthermore, Nick disapproves of Tom's debased, immoral lifestyle and arrogant attitude. Despite Nick's negative feelings towards Tom and Daisy, he sympathizes with Tom's feelings and understands why he blamed Gatsby for murdering Myrtle. At the end of their brief conversation, Nick does end up shaking Tom's hand and feels as if he is speaking to a child when he talks to Tom.

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In the concluding chapter of The Great Gatsby, our narrator Nick sees Tom Buchanan one last time.  While Tom believes they are still friends, Nick refuses to shake hands with him.  Nick refuses to shake hands with Tom because he is still upset over Gatsby's death.  He knows that Daisy is the one who actually stuck and killed Myrtle, but he also knows that neither Tom nor Daisy took responsibility for their actions.  Instead of accepting his hand, Nick asks Tom, "What did you say to Wilson that afternoon?" knowing full well that Tom sent Wilson to Gatsby's house.  He's upset that the Buchanan's are wealthy people who “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” By not shaking hands, Nick is expressing his displeasure with their life style and the way they treat people.

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