Blogging The Great Gatsby: Part 8 (The One Where Our Favorite Fledgling Romantic Goes to the Great Sin Wagon in the Sky)
Catch up on the first 7 parts of Blogging Great Gatsby right here!
Here’s the situation: we’ve got Moaning Myrtle Wilson, now dead, unjustly caught in the crossfire of a love triangle. We’ve got the powerful and sweaty Tom Buchanan, now wracked with grief and sweatier than ever. We’ve got Daisy, still kind of waffling between men. We’ve got Gatsby, still in love with Daisy. But the one thing we weren’t counting on was George “WILD CARD” Wilson. George, for all his boring and forgettable qualities, just lost his wife in a tragic accident. George wants answers. George wants revenge. This is George Wilson: The Reckoning. He’s back, and this time… it’s personal.
Nick chooses now to tell us he might possess latent psychic powers; he wakes up and runs to Gatsby’s house, probably all hot and bothered and half-dressed, because he has the vague feeling that he needs to warn Gatsby about something before it’s too late. But Gatsby’s fine. He just tells Nick that his night of light creeping didn’t pay off. Daisy never came out to meet him.
Nick tells Gatsby he should get out of town for a while; it’s almost certain they’ll trace the car back to him. The fact that it’s still sitting in Gatsby’s garage with a Myrtle-sized dent in the front bumper isn’t doing him any favors. Gatsby refuses, however, for reasons best described as “but Daisy.” Then he sits Nick down and tells him a thing or two about love.
Let me make this clear: I have nothing against Daisy. I think Daisy is a perfectly adequate human being who I probably would not be friends with, mostly because I am a money-less sack of flesh clothed in Forever 21 clearance items who is unfit to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. But over the course of 4.5 pages of Daisy-related backstory, I still cannot make sense of Gatsby’s all-consuming obsession. She’s pretty. She’s sort of nice. She made a joke once, I think. That was cool of her. I’d probably have a crush on her, too. But then I would see Tom Buchanan’s rockin’ bod, and I would move on. And then I would realize he is a terrible person, and I would move on again. Do you see this, Gatsby? Do you see what I’m doing? What I’m doing is not fostering an infatuation around which I base my life. That’s what I’ve decided NOT to do. You should’ve tried this. I wish you had tried this.
Anyway, Gatsby relays to Nick the early days of his courtship with Daisy. It looks something like this:
GATSBY: She was nice, old sport. Can you imagine such a thing? I had never met a human female before who was actually nice.
NICK: That seems like a whopping generalization, but I’ll roll with it.
GATSBY: She was also rich. I really liked that about her.
NICK: Got it, okay. So she was nice and rich.
GATSBY: Yes, she was both of those things.
NICK: And… what else?
NICK: What else did you like about her?
GATSBY: She had this big house. Like really big.
NICK: That… sounds a bit like a natural byproduct of her family being rich.
GATSBY: No, it was unrelated. I feel like you’re not getting this.
GATSBY: We had sex one time. I liked that about her also.
NICK: Okay, cool, but that’s… that’s it? You guys had sex? She was nice and rich? That’s why you devoted five years of your life to cultivating this nouveau riche persona and immersing yourself in a life of crime?
GATSBY: Well, yeah. Plus I also liked that other guys liked her, but she only liked me. It made me feel good about myself.
NICK: Ohhhh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.
Sorry. That was my reaction, not Nick’s. I actually feel sorry for Gatsby. He liked Daisy so much because she was part of a world he never knew. He wasn’t being malicious; he simply fell in love with an ideal as nebulous and insubstantial as the American Dream. Hey! Guys, I think I just did a smart. I think Daisy represents the American Dream.
When they first met, Gatsby led Daisy to believe he was rich—so when he went off to war, he decided not to return until that was true. But Daisy got tired of waiting. She married Tom instead, and here we are, five years later, with one untimely death under our belt and another in the works. Spoiler alert!
Gatsby and Nick stay up all night talking about this. The next morning, the gardener tells Gatsby he’s going to drain the pool, but Gatsby says he wants to take one last dip in it. He throws down some serious come-hither-and-join-me vibes, but Nick doesn’t take the bait. Instead, he says he’ll call later. Before he leaves, Nick turns back and tells Gatsby he’s worth more than the Buchanans and all “their crowd” put together. Looking back, Nick was always glad he said that. He was always glad he made the absolute minimum effort required in this particular scenario.
And then we get one final Nick Carraway description of Gatsby’s smile: it's “radiant and understanding, as if we’d been in ecstatic cahoots…the whole time.” For what it’s worth, Nick also says Gatsby’s suit is gorgeous. We’ve come full circle. This is the pinnacle of good storytelling.
Nick goes to work. He tries to call Gatsby, but there’s no answer. He tries four times, actually, which seems excessive for someone who just denied an invitation to go skinny dipping. Something's not right. He decides to take the 3:50 PM train back to West Egg.
But suddenly, the focus switches. Time rewinds. Remember George Wilson? He’s out for blood. After an ambulance takes Myrtle’s body away on the night of the crash, he starts piecing things together. He decides to Nancy Drew this sucker.
- Clue #1: He remembers that Myrtle once came back from the city with a broken nose under fishy circumstances.
- Clue #2: Myrtle at one point bought a dog leash.
- Conclusion: Myrtle was murdered by her lover.
I have no clue how he’s able to come to this conclusion with the information available to him, actually, but whatever. “It was the man in the car,” he says. “She ran out to speak to him and he wouldn’t stop.” He doesn’t know the identity of the man in question, but the police later suspect he went from one garage to another, asking about a yellow car shaped like a specific part of the male anatomy. Nick, however, tells us that no garage man had any memory of seeing him. I guess Nick went around and asked all the garage men to verify this. It doesn’t surprise me. At any rate, by 2 o’clock Wilson is in West Egg, asking for directions to Gatsby’s house. “So by that time,” Nick says, “he knew Gatsby’s name.”
Nick, who is suddenly psychic again, drives directly to Gatsby’s house from the train station in a flurry of panic. He’s not a very good psychic. He doesn’t seem to be able to prevent terrible things from happening; he just seems to get a vague sense of when terrible things have already happened, elsewhere. Nick’s so-called clairvoyance notwithstanding, it’s too late—he finds Gatsby’s lifeless body floating in the pool. Not far away, they also find George Wilson’s. And so, just like that, the great Gatsby—the man, the myth, the legend, the possible vampire and/or village witch—is gone. Farewell, sweet prince. RIP. Nick the emotionless cyborg has acquired a heart just in time for it to break.
We’ve got one chapter left, and you know what? The real tragedy here is that Gatsby never once said Nick’s name. Maybe he never actually learned it and at this point was too afraid to ask.
Old sports in this chapter: 5.
Old sports overall: 43.