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The Great Gatsby

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What instances of racial prejudice occur in The Great Gatsby?

There are a number of instances in which racism is portrayed in the book. Nick Caraway’s perception to Jews is that of disgust and dislike. He demeans them; this can be proven by how he portrays Meyer Wolfshiem (Fitzgerald, & Matthew 55). According to him, Jews are less than normal human beings and have resemblance to creatures such as animals. The reader clearly sees emphasis of stereotype on how nick perceives Jews. Although the book is funny and many people find these description as humorous, it is clear that there is a perception that in the 1920s people did not want to look beyond race. Tom’s racism is clearly evident from where the book begins as he states that it is upon white people to keep an eye on their country to ensure that other races do not domineer. He seems to have intellectual and physical superiority. This means that the superior race “white” is perceived to be stronger than the rest (Fitzgerald & Matthew 17). His superiority makes him see other people as inferior to him, meaning that other races cannot be compared to white since whites are superior. It is also evident that Tom does not consider black people as equal to people of European origin. This is clear where he states that soon people will go extreme and end having intermarriages between African Americans and whites. This means that African Americans should not be associated with whites and doing so will be going against the norm.

What are Tom's ideas of race, and what does Nick think of them?

Tom’s idea of race is that people of European origin are superior to other races. Tom is a well read man and he follows what he reads, there is an instance, he says, that there are limitations of unions between people of different races. According to him, when people of different races make unions, there happens the disruption of the norm. Even though Tom was wealthy and educated, he could not see people beyond race and did not consider science. Tom is, however, worried that there is corruption of what he believes in by some people who want to be associated with other races. According to him, this will never work and will only make things worse since other races can never be of the same class as whites. Nick supports Tom in making racist comments, he does not see people beyond their races as well.

Does Nick himself betrays any racist behavior or white supremacist attitudes?

Nick describes people of African American origin as modish Negroes. He sees other races as inferior and to him they cannot be termed as people. His perception of other races is that they cannot be compared to whites and neither can they even compete. He laughs at the thought that could even be possible. According to Nick, a white person without class is more superior to a rich and well read African American or Jew.

What do the representations of these issues in “The Great Gatsby” tell us about the 1920s America?

This book clearly portrays the issues people dealt with in the 1920s. It shows whites’ perception to people of other origins and the fact that they felt they were superior. There is also an issue of fear; whites feared that other races would take over their land. There was also fear that America’s way of life was being threatened by other races and they would lose their culture. There is also the issue of some Americans willing to unite with other races and how people perceive this.

This book shows the confusion that was experienced before people from different origins could integrate. 1920s America was under pressure to prove itself; many visitors were arriving from all over the world for better life. This had its share of challenges since the whites did not want the visitors to be of the same class as them.

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