In chapter one of The Great Gatsby, how does Nick view Tom?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the very opening of the book, Nick spends a few pages describing his upbringing and asserting that until he returned home from the East, he had always been the type of person that doesn't judge others.  It is after the events of the summer that he learns to be disgusted and offended. 

This announcement of his is almost immediately followed by the scene in which he first meets Tom again since they were both in college.  In this scene, Nick demonstrates that he doesn't not judge others.  He mentions Tom's arrogant eyes, he mentions being annoyed by him, but other than that he does not indicate a strong dislike.  He actually says that Tom and Daisy's interest in him "rather touched me". 

His description of Tom is pointedly unemotional, saying:  "I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game."

When Tom speaks so ridiculously and hatefully about the "other races", Nick only says that he was "rather surprised by his tone."

Finally, in recognition of Tom's affair, he only says:  "As for Tom, the fact that he “had some woman in New York” was really less surprising".

Overall, Nick does not have strong feelings towards Tom.  He accepts him for who he is, and as he told us, doesn't judge.

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The Great Gatsby

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