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Summary Chp. 9

Chapter Nine

As this chapter opens, Nick reminds us that this is a memoir of events that took place two years previously. He remembers the rest of the day of Gatsby’s murder as “an endless drill of police and photographers and newspapermen.”

At the coroner’s inquest the connection between Myrtle Wilson and Tom Buchanan is never discovered.

Nick is left to make Gatsby’s funeral arrangements. Tom and Daisy have left town. Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby’s gangster mentor, lets Nick know via letter that he does not care to be involved any further in Gatsby’s affairs.

Gatsby’s father, “a solemn old man very helpless and dismayed,” arrives on Long Island.
Nick goes to New York to see Mr. Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim refuses to even attend the funeral.

He gives Nick one of the last pieces of information about Gatsby. He and Gatsby met after the war in a pool hall. Gatsby was penniless and looking for work. Wolfsheim realized right away that someone with Gatsby’s appearance, Oxford manner, and good war record would be useful to him.

The last information about Gatsby comes from his father, who shows Nick an old copy of a boy’s book - the young Gatsby’s schedule for the day and resolutions for improving himself are written on the fly leaf in back.

Nick, Gatsby’s father, a minister, servants from Gatsby’s big house, and the local postman attend the funeral ceremony. One stray party-goer makes it to the actual burial.

Nick sums up Gatsby’s story in terms of how it has effected him, he speaks of prep school and college days, and of returning home to the Midwest in winter on the train, of balancing between the exciting glamorous East and the reassuring solid Midwest.
He speaks of the pull of the Midwest and his decision to go home after Gatsby’s death. Perhaps, he tells us, his personality is “subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.” He sees Jordan Baker one more time and tells her good bye.

And before he leaves he runs into Tom Buchanan on the sidewalk in New York. He comes to some final understanding or comprehension of Tom and Daisy: “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…”

On Nick’s last night in the East, he walks over to Gatsby’s place and looks over the grounds one last time. He walks down to the shore of the bay and sits in the sand.
In a single terrific compressed moment of personal empathy and historical sensibility and insight, he merges Gatsby’s story with the American dream of hopefulness and striving.
Of the landscape: “the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes – a fresh green breast of the new world.”
Of Jay Gatsby standing on the shore staring across the bay to Daisy’s house: “his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.”
And of Gatsby and of all of us he predicts: “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out father… so we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald