In The Great Gatsby, why is Tom's statement, 'I've got a nice place here,' ironic?
In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan's comment "I've got a nice place here," can be seen as an understatement and ironic.
It is an understatement because Tom's house is located in East Egg, which is a peninsula outside of New York City that has a twin landform known as West Egg. East Egg is known to be the more fashionable of the two islands. Nick says of Tom:
His family were enormously wealthy--even in college his freedom with money was a matter of reproach--but now he'd left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance, he'd brought a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to imagine a man in my own generation wealthy enough to do that.
Nick describes Tom and Daisy's house in this passage:
Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay.
This is why it is an understatement for Tom to describe his house and grounds as a "nice place." It is more than nice, it is extravagant.
This statement is also ironic because he is not a nice man. He's a bully, bigoted, morally repugnant, and racist. He is a terrible husband, having constant affairs, and a poor friend, as well. The beauty of his surroundings hides the pain and discord of the home he has created with Daisy.
Tom does have a nice place. It is in East Egg, the upper class section.
Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans.
Nick notes that Tom's and Daisy's house is nicer than he had thought, "a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay." Superficially speaking, the area and their home are both very nice.
Tom does not intend to be ironic here. He is bragging. But, the statement is ironic because the pleasant scene masks an unhappy, troubled marriage. Tom is a racist, arrogant, brute who cheats on his wife. Daisy is depressed and although she may feel trapped in her marriage to Tom, she depends on him. Needless to say, she cheats on Tom as well. This is hardly the perfect All-American couple. However, this financially established good looking couple is one example of an American Dream, something that Gatsby himself is chasing. It is ironic that Tom's "nice place" (his home, his marriage, his situation in life) is only nice on the surface.