What is the plot significance of this quote from "The Great Gatsby":  " ...[us whites] who are the dominant race...". -Tom

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote by Tom from the first chapter reveals to the reader what kind of man Tom is.  It tells us that he is narrow-minded and prejudiced.  He feels that he is the ruler of society; that he is at the top of the ladder and is superior to everyone else.  His superior attitude is prevalent throughout the book.  He feels above not only minority races, but also other socio-economic classes of people.  He has been rich all his life and he has come to expect people to view him as better than others because he sees himself that way.

Fitzgerald shows the reader in this book that simply because a person is born into wealth and privilege, doesn't make that person a better individual.  In fact, those who were the economic upper class in the book are shown as shallow and irresponsible people who only cared about themselves. The people who cared about others were those who worked for a living.  Tom has a very limited view of the world and this quote is one of our earlier bits of information about Tom's personality.  Later, when Tom throws a fit because he thinks Daisy might be cheating on him and the irony of the fact that Tom cheats on Daisy is lost on him, we see even more of this limited view because once again, Tom feels he is superior to everyone.  At the end, when he runs into Nick and tries to justify telling George Wilson that the car that hit and killed Myrtle belonged to Gatsby, we see again that Tom feels he has the right to do whatever he wants.  Even Nick understands at this point that Tom will never change his narrow-minded views of the world.

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The Great Gatsby

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