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


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The final chapter is significant for many reasons. It clearly shows that Nick has matured to such a degree that he becomes fully responsible. He takes charge of Gatsby’s funeral, making all the arrangements and trying to make certain there are guests in attendance. In stark contrast to Nick’s moral practicality, Tom and Daisy flee the scene, once again leaving their mess for someone else to clean up. When Nick runs into him later in October, he refuses to shake Tom’s hand. He is also disgusted as Tom talks about how hard it was to lose Myrtle and give up the New York apartment he had kept for her. Tom, with no emotion, also admits to Nick that he had, in essence, assured Gatsby’s murder by explaining to the gun-toting Wilson that Gatsby was the owner of the yellow car. The callous and selfish Tom does not care that an innocent man was killed, for the outcome saved Daisy and him from trouble.

In an attempt to befriend the dead Gatsby, Nick tries to find people to come to his funeral. He is horrified that when he calls, Klipsringer, the boarder who attended all of Gatsby’s parties, he says he is too busy to come, but is very concerned about some tennis shoes he left at Gatsby’s house. The moral Nick is outraged and hangs up on him. When Wolfsheim refuses to return his calls, Nick actually goes into the city to find him. He is in hiding behind the door of the “Swatstika Holding Company,” but Nick finally gets him to emerge. Although Wolfsheim claims to have made Gatsby, to have pulled him out of the gutters, he does not care enough about the man to attend his funeral.

Finally, Mr. Gatz, Gatsby’s nervous father arrives, adding several more interesting details about his son’s life. He says that it is the first time he has been to West Egg and seen Gatsby’s mansion; it is obvious that he is very impressed. He also reveals that his son came to see him in Minnesota about two years ago; during the visit, he bought his father a house, proving Gatsby basic goodness and kindness. Gatz then claims that Gatsby was always bright, hard-working, and driven. To prove his point, he shows Nick a copy of a book. On the inside back cover, “Jimmy” had written his daily schedule and included all of his resolutions. Mr. Gatz, like his son, is also a dreamer. He truly believes that Gatsby was destined for greatness, that he would do something significant to improve the country. Ironically, he has no idea that his son was a hopeless dreamer whose holy grail was nothing more than an unworthy, flighty, and selfish female.

Gatsby’s funeral is a pathetic affair, an appropriate end to a wasted life and tragic existence. The weather is appropriately gloomy and drizzling rain. The Lutheran minister who is to perform the funeral knows nothing about Gatsby. No one comes to the house for the service, even though they postpone its beginning by thirty minutes to allow for any late-comers. Only Owl-Eyes joins them at the cemetery. This man succinctly summarizes Gatsby’s life and existence by saying “the poor son-of-a-bitch.

Nick again shows his maturity when he has a desire to leave things in order before he departs from New York. When he earlier left the Midwest, he did leave some things out of order, not dealing with the issue of his old girlfriend; that oversight has haunted his stay on the East Coast. Now he is determined to make things right. He arranges to see Jordan and tell her the truth about his feelings for her. Like Daisy, she is unworthy of such consideration. When Nick finishes his explanation, she casually says it does not matter, for she is engaged to another man to be married. Since she is an inveterate liar, Nick does not believe her story, even though he acknowledges she could probably choose a husband from several suitors. At the end of the meeting with Jordan, Nick acknowledges that he is thirty, too old to lie to himself anymore.

Nick shows his maturity again when he evaluates Tom and Daisy. He finally judges them to be careless people who smashed up things and left their mess for others to clean up. It is a clear reflection of an earlier description of one of Gatsby’s parties, where the hired help was left to clean up the remains of the festivities. It is also a reflection of the ashheaps in the Valley of Ashes. In essence, then, the dream of wealth, which is the American Dream, is really a meaningless dream that will end in a wasteland. In a like manner, Gatsby’s dream, a symbol of the American Dream, ends in the Valley of Ashes, from where Wilson emerges to kill both the Great Gatsby and the dream.


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