The Great Gatsby Chapter 9 Summary

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

How does ''The Great Gatsby'' end? What happens to all those rich people? This lesson provides an overview of the ninth and final chapter of F. Scott Fitzgerald's ''The Great Gatsby.'' It will answer these questions and more.

A Dreary Death

At the end of the previous chapter of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, we discover that Wilson has shot Gatsby and then himself. Gatsby's body is found floating face down in his pool. The ninth chapter opens as Nick Carraway, the book's narrator and Gatsby's neighbor, is fielding questions from reporters and police about Gatsby's death. Nick spends the rest of the chapter trying to drum up Gatsby's 'friends' to attend his funeral. With the exception of Owl Eyes, a man Nick met in Gatsby's library once, Nick can find no one to attend the funeral with him and Gatsby's father. Gatsby, it turns out, was not loved for who he was, but only what he had. The emptiness of wealth and social status is a recurrent theme in this chapter and the novel as a whole.

Daisy and Tom

Daisy and Gatsby were lovers. Daisy was the one who committed the murder for which Wilson killed Gatsby. These things considered, Nick expects Daisy to attend the funeral or call or send a flower, but nothing. She and Tom go away without a second thought for anyone else. Daisy and Tom 'were careless people,' Nick observed, 'they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money...and let other people clean up the mess they had made...' Furthermore, we learn that Tom is responsible for sending Wilson to Gatsby's house in the first place. Tom tells Wilson the car that killed his wife belonged to Gatsby, carefully leaving out the fact that Daisy was driving it at the time.

Mr. Gatz

Throughout the novel, Jay Gatsby carefully fails to give any information about his family. In this last chapter, we meet his father, Henry C. Gatz. He sees the story of his son's death in the newspaper and comes out for the funeral. From Mr. Gatz, we learn that Jay Gatsby is really Jimmy Gatz. He grew up poor in an uneducated family. It seems he spent the rest of his life trying to lose his past, making himself into Jay Gatsby, a fictional character who is all wealth and prestige. Sadly, none of the trappings or 'friends' associated with this created persona were the enduring sort. For all his wealth and cunning, Gatsby is buried on a rainy day with only three people in attendance: his father, Nick, and Owl Eyes.

A Photograph

Mr. Gatz insists on showing Nick an old picture his son had sent him of his house--the very house the two of them are staying in at that very moment. Nick observes that the photograph is old and worn and well loved. Mr. Gatz insists on pointing out every detail to Nick. 'I think it was more real to him now than the house itself,' Nick tells us. This photograph and Mr. Gatz's ironic attachment to it even in the presence of the real thing is symbolic of the elusive something which Gatsby sought. His idea of success, prestige, and importance is to him like this photograph is to his father--more real than the thing itself. This idea was enough to carry him forward and keep him going, but his actual wealth was but a meaningless hull--valueless remnants which remain empty with unkempt grass after he dies.

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