In The Great Gatsby, why does Tom think that "civilization is going to pieces"?What does he think they should do about it? in other words, why does tom believe civilization is deteriorating, and...

In The Great Gatsby, why does Tom think that "civilization is going to pieces"?

What does he think they should do about it?

in other words, why does tom believe civilization is deteriorating, and what must be done to save it?

thank you

Expert Answers
troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first chapter we meet Tom just as he is.  He is a racist pig.  He is also an elitist.  He feels that he is worth more than almost everyone else, and that only the white people should be in power.  After the word "civilization" comes up, Tom tells Nick about a book he recently read.

"Well, it's a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be--will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved."

He feels that African Americans are coming up in the world and he needs to make sure that the "white race" remains supreme. He even has Daisy saying, "We've got to beat them down." Tom feels that "we've produced all the
things that go to make civilization--oh, science and art and all that."

He thinks his rich, artsy and well-read (so he thinks) lifestyle is supreme because he's white.  All we learn from him in this chapter is what an ignorant, elitist jerk he is.

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The Great Gatsby

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