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

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pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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The Great Gatsby

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