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What Role Does the Book “The Rise of the Colored Empires” Play in The Great Gatsby?

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The book “The Rise of the Colored Empires” is mentioned in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby. The main antagonist, Tom Buchanan, comments on it. This scene is essential for understanding his character and life principles. The book also refers to a real-life piece of literature. It promotes the ideas of racism in society.

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The Great Gatsby is not only about a romantic and tragic plot. It covers numerous social issues that occupied many generations’ minds. They include the topic of class and racial inequality, which was a pressing problem at the time.

The theme of racism is first raised by Tom Buchanan. He mentions the book “The Rise of the Colored Empires,” written by an author named Goddard. He notes changes in society’s racial composition are a hazard. So, the white Americans are in danger. Tom cites the book during the conversation. He mentions it has been proven that other nations will suppress the white race. It serves as an opening statement for discussing race issues. Moreover, Tom uses it as the scientific background while proving he’s right.

The book “The Rise of the Colored Empires” is significant for getting to know Tom Buchanan’s character. He is the key antagonist of the story. Later, he becomes a crucial obstacle to Gatsby and Daisy’s reunion. Tom Buchanan shows himself as an arrogant and selfish man. His social behavior is filled with sexism and racism. The attitude he shows towards others is mostly ignorant. The fact that Tom promotes “The Rise of the Colored Empires” is vital for the analysis. It demonstrates the audience his white supremacist views. Thanks to this episode, the opinion about him is already formed.

Mentioning the named book, Tom refers to an existing work with a slightly different title. It’s “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy,” written by Lothrop Stoddard. A member of the Ku Klux Klan, he wrote several works advancing white supremacist views. He even paid a personal visit to Adolf Hitler. The dictator praised his determination to protect “hereditary valuable couples.” So, F. Scott Fitzgerald ties his fictional world with a critical real-life issue.

The race issues in The Great Gatsby is a reflection of the deep division. American society suffered through it in the early twentieth century. It was the time when the Ku Klux Klan reached its full power, having thousands of members. The activities of the white supremacists led to tragedies for the minority communities. However, they were still appraised by many. The author shows the antagonist as a supporter of such views. It also demonstrates his attitude toward the entire movement. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the image of Tom as an example. He paints all racists as selfish and arrogant people.

Thus, the reference of “The Rise of the Colored Empires” has a dual meaning. On the one hand, it shows the personality of the play’s main antagonist, Tom Buchanan. It shapes the attitude towards him. On the other hand, it highlights the issue of racism and inequality between nations. It ties the play to the pressing social problem at the time. Also, the reader understands the author’s approach to it.

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IvyPanda. (2020, October 23). What Role Does the Book "The Rise of the Colored Empires" Play in The Great Gatsby? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/q/what-role-does-the-book-the-rise-of-the-colored-empires-play-in-the-great-gatsby/

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"What Role Does the Book "The Rise of the Colored Empires" Play in The Great Gatsby?" IvyPanda, 23 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/q/what-role-does-the-book-the-rise-of-the-colored-empires-play-in-the-great-gatsby/.

1. IvyPanda. "What Role Does the Book "The Rise of the Colored Empires" Play in The Great Gatsby?" October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-role-does-the-book-the-rise-of-the-colored-empires-play-in-the-great-gatsby/.


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IvyPanda. "What Role Does the Book "The Rise of the Colored Empires" Play in The Great Gatsby?" October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-role-does-the-book-the-rise-of-the-colored-empires-play-in-the-great-gatsby/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "What Role Does the Book "The Rise of the Colored Empires" Play in The Great Gatsby?" October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-role-does-the-book-the-rise-of-the-colored-empires-play-in-the-great-gatsby/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'What Role Does the Book "The Rise of the Colored Empires" Play in The Great Gatsby'. 23 October.

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