What moral judgment does Nick make in Chapter 9 about Tom and Daisy in The Great Gatsby?

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The moral judgment that Nick makes in the novel's last chapter is that Tom and Daisy Buchanan are not only self-absorbed, but also completely oblivious to the effects their actions have on others.

Nick observes that on the day of Gatsby's funeral, "Daisy hadn't sent a message or a flower."

When Nick later encounters Tom on the street in Manhattan, Nick refuses to shake Tom's hand and says, "You know what I think of you." He realizes that in Tom's distorted way of thinking, "what he had done was, to him, entirely justified" when he let Wilson think that Gatsby was responsible for Myrtle's death.

Readers realize, through Nick's narration, that Tom and Daisy are culpable in Gatsby's death though Wilson pulls the trigger, and that Daisy is directly responsible for Myrtle's accidental death. Tom also earns culpability in Wilson's suicide. Instead of facing the consequences for what they've done, or failed to do, Tom and Daisy simply pack up and leave without a forwarding address.

The oft quoted 

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they 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 . . .

is Nick's ultimate moral judgment on the Buchanans. Nick counts himself among those who had to "clean up the mess" as he alone plans Gatsby's funeral, looks after Gatsby's elderly father, and tries in vain to gather mourners for the funeral.

luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The moral judgment that Nick makes regarding Tom and Daisy is that they are self-centered people who do not care whose lives they hurt as long they continue to have their luxurious lives.  Nick says of them:  "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they 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....".  He calls them "careless" because they are so selfish that they don't care whose lives they affect.  Tom toyed with Myrtle's affections because he knew she wanted the comforts his wealth had to offer and she would put up with whatever he did.  Daisy knew she'd never leave Tom for Jay, but she let Jay believe he had a chance of having a future with Daisy because it pleased Daisy to do so.  When troubles hit, Tom and Daisy just packed up their belongings and their lives and moved away letting other people suffer over the carnage left in their paths.  Nick's moral judgment at the end of the story is the reflection of his moral judgment he made at the end of the first chapter.  As he's leaving Tom and Daisy's house after the dinner party, he reflects, "...I was a little confused and disgusted as I drove away."

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The Great Gatsby

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