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Free Study Guide-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald-Book Notes

 

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PLOT SUMMARY NOTES


CHAPTER IX


Summary

Nick writes this chapter two years after Gatsby’s death. He still clearly remembers the string of policemen and newsmen that invaded Gatsby’s home after his murder. The news stories that followed were “grotesque, circumstantial, eager, and untrue.” Fortunately, Catherine, Myrtle’s sister, spoke out, saying that Myrtle did not know Gatsby and was perfectly happy with her husband George. As a result, Wilson was simply called a man “deranged by grief.”

Almost immediately after Gatsby’s death, Nick realizes he is the only person who seemed to really care about the man and one of the few who was on his side. Nick calls Daisy to give her the news within the hour, but the servants tell him that she and Tom have gone out of town without leaving an address or a date of return. He then tries to call Meyer Wolfsheim at his office, but it is after five o’clock, and no one answers. When Nick is in the room with Gatsby’s body, he imagines him saying, “Look here, old sport, you’ve got to get somebody for me. . .I can’t go through this alone.” The next day neither Wolfsheim nor Daisy telephone, even though he is certain that they would have read about Gatsby’s murder in the newspaper. In fact, no one calls or comes to Gatsby’s house. Nick feels very alone.

On the third day after Gatsby’s death, a telegram arrives from Gatsby’s father, Henry C. Gatz. It requests that the funeral be postponed until he can come from Minnesota. Upon Gatz’s arrival, Nick greets him and offers him some food, which he does not eat. Nick finds Gatsby’s father to be a solemn old man, physically shaken and totally dismayed; it is obvious, however, that he was proud of his son “Jimmy” and the wealth he had amassed. He tells Nick that “he had a big future. . .If he’d of lived he’d of been a great man. . .helped build up the country.” Nick nods in agreement.

On the evening of Gatz’s arrival, Klipspringer, “the boarder,” also telephones. Nick tells him about the funeral arrangements, scheduled for the next day at three o’clock. Klipspringer indicates that he is tied up and probably will not be able to make it. He is, however, very worried about a pair of shoes that he has left at Gatsby’s house. Nick is so horrified at the man’s callousness that he hangs up the telephone before the boarder can give his address.

Desperate to find people to attend the funeral, Nick goes into New York to call on Wolfsheim. The sign on his office door says “The Swastika Holding Company,” and a woman tells Nick that Wolfsheim is in Chicago; however, Nick hears a voice from inside the offices, and it unmistakably belongs to Wolfsheim. When Nick mentions Gatsby’s name, the woman goes away and Wolfsheim appears. He first says that the loss of Gatsby is a sad thing. Then he tells Nick about how he discovered Gatsby and “made him -- raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter.” Wolfsheim then says he regrets he cannot come to Gatsby’s funeral, confessing “I can’t get mixed up in it.”

When Nick leaves the office, the sky has appropriately turned dark. By the time he arrives in West Egg, it is drizzling. He changes his clothes and goes over to check on Mr. Gatz. The old man explains he last saw Gatsby two years ago when he came home for a visit and to buy his father a house. Gatz then shows Nick a picture of Gatsby’s mansion that he has carried in his wallet to show his friends. He also shows a ragged copy of “Hopalong Cassidy,” a book Gatsby owned when he was a boy. Inside, on the back cover, Gatsby had written out a detailed schedule for his day on September 12, 1906. At the bottom of the schedule were his “ resolves,” including “no wasting time” and “ be better to parents.”

A little before three o’clock the Lutheran minister arrives. Nick begins to anxiously look out the window for other cars; so does Mr. Gatz. Even though Nick tells the minister to wait for thirty minutes, no one else comes to the funeral except for the hired help. About five o’clock, three vehicles arrive at the cemetery; the first is the hearse, followed by a limousine carrying Mr. Gatz, the minister, and Nick. The last car carries the servants and the postman. This small group is joined by Owl-Eyes, the strange man that Nick had earlier encountered in Gatsby’s library.

Although Nick tries to concentrate on the minister’s words and remember something about Gatsby, all he can think about is the fact that Daisy never even bothered to send a wire or flowers. As he walks away from the graveside, Owl-Eyes comes up to Nick and apologizes that he could not make it to Gatsby’s house. Nick sourly answers, “Neither could anybody else.” Owl-Eyes is astonished at his words and says, “My God! they used to go there by the hundreds. . .The poor son-of-a-bitch.”

Nick closes his narrative by stating that his story was really a tale of the West, for Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, and he were all from the West, even though from different backgrounds. Nick’s memories of his West are images of the holidays with sleigh bells in the frosty dark, trains bringing people home, and holly wreaths throwing shadows on the snow. In comparison to these images, the East seems fantastic and distorted to Nick, especially after Gatsby’s death. Nick even compares the village of West Egg to a forlorn and grotesque painting by El Greco.


It is not surprising that the moral and conservative Nick decides to return home to the Midwest. Before he can leave West Egg, however, he feels obliged to put everything in order, including his relationship with Jordan Baker. He tries to tell her how he feels, but she does not seem to care. After his explanation is complete, she announces that she is engaged to another man. Since she is such a liar, Nick does not believe her, even though he knows she could have had several husbands. She then accuses Nick by saying, “You did throw me over. . .I don’t give a damn about you now, but it was a new experience for me and I felt a little dizzy for awhile.” She then ironically adds that she had mistakenly thought he was an honest, straightforward person. Nick, hurt by her words, answers, “I’m thirty -- five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor. After shaking hands, Nick quickly departs from Jordan forever.

In October, before he leaves for the Midwest, Nick sees Tom Buchanan on Fifth Avenue. Nick tries to avoid him, but Tom spies Nick and reaches out his hand. When Nick hesitates, Tom asks if he minds shaking his hand. The noble Nick tells him that he does mind and adds, “You know what I think of you.” He then asks Tom what he had told Wilson after Myrtle’s death. Tom admits he told him that Gatsby owned the yellow car. He then adds that Gatsby “had it coming to him. . .He threw dust in your eyes, just like he did in Daisy’s.” He then tells Nick he has suffered greatly, saying he cried like a baby when he gave up Myrtle’s rented flat. Tom is truly disgusting! Nick then comes to terms with Tom and Daisy. “They were careless people. . .They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Once he makes this judgement, Nick realizes he is “rid of my provincial squeamishness forever.”

Gatsby’s house remained empty, but it haunted Nick. On weekends, he still heard the music and laughter of Gatsby’s extravagant parties; as a result, he went into the city to escape the sounds in his head. On his last night on West Egg, Nick walks over to Gatsby’s mansion and down to the beach. He thinks about the distant past and how the Dutch sailors must have felt when they spied this wonderful green island. He compares it to Gatsby’s probable sense of wonder when he first spied the green light of Daisy’s dock. “He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” What Gatsby never really knew or accepted was that the dream was in the past. For the Great Gatsby, however, as long as he could see the green light, he had a purpose in life.

 

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