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The Great Gatsby


The Author
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9



Chapter 9


Fitzgerald closes The Great Gatsby by tying up several loose ends. During the day after Gatsby's death, Nick feels that he alone is on his neighbor's side, as Gatsby's house floods with police, photographers, and newspapermen. Discovering that Tom and Daisy Buchanan have left town, leaving no address, Nick sends a letter to Meyer Wolfsheim informing him of Gatsby's death. Wolfsheim responds by saying although it is one of the most difficult shocks of his life, he is simply too busy to be involved with funeral preparations or visit Gatsby's house.

As Nick stays with the dead body at Gatsby's house the phone rings, and a man begins talking -- believing Gatsby answered the phone -- with news that "Young Parke's in trouble....They picked him up when he handed the bonds over the counter" (174). This seems to indicate, finally, that Gatsby was involved with illegally handling stolen bond funds.

Gatsby's father arrives for the funeral, and Nick attempts to find others to attend; everyone he speaks with, however, has an excuse. None of the guests who abused Gatsby's hospitality at his parties all summer show up to his funeral, until Owl Eyes -- a character from Nick's first visit to Gatsby's -- arrives. Taken aback that no one else came, Owl Eyes remembers, "Why, my God! they used to go there by the hundreds....The poor son-of-a-bitch" (183).

After Gatsby's death, Nick determines to move back to the Midwest, but first goes to visit Jordan Baker one last time. To Nick's surprise, Jordan informs him that she is already engaged to somebody else, prompting him to leave angrily, still "half in love with her, and tremendously sorry" (186). Later that fall Nick runs into Tom Buchanan, who Nick remains angry at. Having figured out that George Wilson had gone to see Tom before killing Gatsby, Nick asks Tom what he told Wilson that afternoon. Tom replies, "I told him the truth," (187) elaborating that Wilson was crazy enough to kill him if he didn't reveal who owned the car.

Finally, on his last night in West Egg, Nick goes over to Gatsby's house -- that "huge incoherent failure of a house" (188) -- where he finds some boy has scrawled an obscene word with a piece of brick on the front steps. After erasing it, Nick walks to the beach, reflecting on how Gatsby's green light -- one man's hope for the future -- was actually just part of an unattainable past.


The reports of Gatsby's death are consistent with the rumors that circulated when he was alive: they assume a number of lurid details, when in fact the circumstances of the murder are actually somewhat mundane. The general opinion of Gatsby after the death demonstrates clearly how he was such an outsider in society. Only Nick remains devoted to Gatsby after the murder, while the rest of Gatsby's acquaintances have no interest in him. The many guests at his parties are now absent; his murder confirms the ill suspicions and rumors that had circulated concerning Gatsby.

After the murder, Tom and Daisy quickly flee New York, an action typical of their careless behavior. They do not take responsibility for any of the events surrounding Gatsby's murder, leaving Nick to handle everything alone. Even Meyer Wolfsheim behaves responsibly in comparison to the Buchanans. Although he refuses to be mixed up in the situation, he still shows concern and compassion. Wolfsheim even gives a sane appraisal of the situation, telling Nick that one should show friendship for a man when he is alive.

Wolfsheim's reluctance to be involved seems honorable, and Fitzgerald makes it clear that Wolfsheim had genuine affection for Gatsby. The Buchanans behave entirely selfishly.

Henry Gatz serves to place Gatsby's life in proper perspective. From him Nick learns how much Gatsby achieved and how dedicated he was to self-improvement. Even when he was an adolescent he had grand plans for becoming respectable. Contrary to his reputation as a man interested only in pleasure, Gatsby took good care of his father, buying him a house and providing him with a modestly comfortable life.

The funeral provides further evidence that few had any concern for Gatsby. Other than his servants, Henry Gatz and Nick, only the Owl-Eyed man from the first party attend the funeral. Where hundreds attended his parties, only a small number attend his funeral.

A common trait among the principle characters of the novel ' Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, and the Buchanans ' is that each came east for its excitement, compared to the bored Midwest. Yet for Nick the excitement of the east is a grotesque distortion. The excitement of the east sustains wild parties at the Gatsby mansion, but also provides an atmosphere in which people as careless as the Buchanans can wreak incredible havoc upon others.

Jordan's 'bad driver' metaphor places Nick into a different light. Since he serves primarily as an objective narrator, there is little critique of his actions. Only Jordan points out that Nick is as false and careless as the others. He pursued a halfhearted romance with Jordan with little consideration for her feelings, showing interest for her only casually. Significantly, she does not find the solution to their faults to be self-improvement and correction, but rather avoidance. According to Jordan, irresponsible people are only harmful when they find each other (as Nick had found her and the Buchanans).

The meeting between Tom and Nick is disturbing because Tom sincerely believes that he deserves some degree of sympathy. It was Tom who was responsible for Gatsby's murder, but he believed that the outcome was justice. It is here that Nick fully realizes the Buchanans' depravity, giving the most accurate appraisal of them: he calls them "careless people" who "smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness."

Fitzgerald concludes the novel with a final note on Gatsby's beliefs. It is this particular aspect of his character ' his optimistic belief in achievement and the ability to attain one's dreams ' that defines Gatsby, in contrast to the compromising cynicism of his peers. Yet the final symbol contradicts and deflates the grand optimism that Gatsby held. Fitzgerald ends the book with the sentence "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past," which contradicts Gatsby's fervent belief that one can escape his origins and rewrite his past.


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