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Chapter 8

Even after Nick gets back home to West Egg, he can't sleep because of all that has happened, and at the crack of dawn, he hears Gatsby return home. Nothing had transpired between him and Daisy while he was holding his midnight vigil - she may not have even known that he was hiding outside her house. Nick tells him that he should go away because of the problems that have arisen, but Gatsby tells him that he couldn't possibly leave because he had come so close to attaining his dream of capturing Daisy and making himself happy.
At this point, he reveals to Nick his true life history, the one that Nick has already told us in Chapter 6. Like Fitzgerald, who had fallen in love with a beautiful girl while stationed in the South, Gatsby had fallen in love with Louisville's most beautiful and unattainable prize, the wealthy and dazzling Daisy Fay, who was courted by every young man in the city. Daisy symbolized everything that he craved - her wealth and beauty set her far apart from the difficult toils and menial tasks of the rat race, and he believed that if he could win her, he could also be among the elite.
He did very well during the war and had been sent to Oxford, but he regretted going to Oxford because he had wanted to get home to Daisy as soon as possible. She had not been able to wait for him, and even though she did miss him for a long time, his letters weren't enough to sustain her love. She eventually rediscovered that she could feel safe and secure with the wealthy, blue-blooded Tom Buchanan, and she wrote Gatsby a "Dear John" letter, which he received while he was at Oxford. He had gone back to Louisville after the war, but she had left long ago with Tom, and all that he had left were their memories.
Gatsby finally concludes the story of his relationship with Nick, who is left stunned by the magnitude of Gatsby's dreams and ambitions. After they finish breakfast, Nick realizes that he doesn't want to leave Gatsby by himself, but he also senses that they will be saying farewell to each other forever when he leaves. He decides to head back to his house, and just as he is leaving Gatsby's place, he turns around and impulsively tells Gatsby that Daisy and her friends are a "rotten" crowd and that he is worth all of them put together.
At work that day, Jordan tries to call Nick, but they end up hanging up on each other because they have both realized that neither of them even likes the other. With that episode, Fitzgerald completes one subplot and moves on to another.
Nick then backtracks to tell the reader what had happened the night before, after he and Gatsby had gone back to Long Island. George Wilson had been driven to insanity with his rage and confusion, and he points out to the young Michaelis that God sees what happens on earth through the huge blue eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, the advertisement that hangs over the valley of ashes. Wilson claims that God knows that Myrtle has been murdered, and he believes that he must kill the lover who had taken her life. Even though Michaelis tries to calm him down, he is completely unsuccessful, and Wilson escapes from his supervision while Michaelis is sleeping.
The police later find out by tracing Wilson's steps that he had stopped at several places on the way to West Egg, asking directions to Gatsby's house because he had apparently found out from an unknown source that it had been Gatsby's flashy yellow car that had hit Myrtle. Gatsby had been swimming in his pool at about two o'clock in the afternoon, and his chauffeur had heard shots fired in the backyard, but he said that he hadn't thought much about them. Nick had been notified by the police that Wilson had escaped Michaelis' supervision, and he had headed straight for Gatsby's house. When Nick, the chauffeur, gardener, and butler rush to the backyard, they discover that Gatsby has been murdered - and that the killer, George Wilson, then turned the gun on himself.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9


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