Daisy says, "Tom's getting very profound." What do you think her tone might be? Explain.

Expert Answers
munarriz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, Daisy says about her husband, “Tom’s getting very profound.” The events that lead her to reach this conclusion suggest her tone to be ironic, and perhaps even somewhat derisive.

When Nick first arrives in their home, Tom is described as sitting with his legs apart, speaking in a “gruff husky tenor,” and having “two shining arrogant eyes” that “established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward.” Tom is clearly viewed as a powerful and physical man.

As the group is making small talk, Nick lightheartedly says Daisy makes him feel “uncivilized.” This incites Tom to conclude that “Civilization is going to pieces.” Nick’s use of the term “uncivilized” was a tender joke directed at his cousin. Tom uses the term to transition into a diatribe about black people. Tom makes the statement violently and attributes his conclusion to a book he has read, The Rise of the Colored Empires. Tom says everyone should read the book, which is about how “the white race will be utterly submerged.” This is the moment Daisy interjects and says he is getting profound. Because her husband has been described as aggressive and physical, and because he has used his physical power and his wealth to show off to Nick, it would seem a contradiction for her to describe him as profound.

As Tom continues to worry about the “white race” and its place in society, Daisy says, “We’ve got to beat them [people of color] down.” She whispers it and winks “ferociously toward the fervent sun.” Her response to Tom's concerns—winking and whispering that “We’ve got to beat them down”—cannot be considered to be literal. She is mocking his beliefs, and his choice of reading material, even if she is doing it somewhat subtly. She knows her husband and his base instincts. His words and actions before her comment, and her behavior immediately after, suggest that her tone is both ironic and derisive.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Daisy makes this statement in chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby, and it's clearly a facetious comment made to mock her husband Tom.

Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Daisy's cousin Nick, and a friend Jordan are sitting around a table at a rather awkward dinner.  Several glasses of wine later, the conversation is still rather sparse and awkward, and then this:

"Civilization's going to pieces," broke out Tom violently.

Tom goes on to extol the virtues of a new book he's read, The Rise of the Coloured Empires by "this man Goddard." This book apparently warns white people that black people are getting poised to take over the world, a theory which might have been more credible at that time; today it would certainly be seen as ridiculous and outrageous.  Daisy apparently thinks so, too.  The theory espoused, says Tom, is that

if we don't look out the white race will be--be utterly submerged.  It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved.

The very next line is Daisy's comment to which you refer.  We read that she made her comment "with an expression of unthoughtful sadness," then goes on to kind of make fun of him for reading "deep books with long words in them."  While her words may not sound particularly mocking or sarcastic, Tom interrupts her to defend his position on this book.  The text says he "insists" and he glances at her "Impatiently."  This defensiveness is his reaction to Daisy not taking him seriously.  Her tone, then, is mocking and sarcastic. 

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question