Chapter VIII


When he gets home and is unable to sleep, Nick goes to Gatsby's, where he finds the latter also still awake. Gatsby tells the story of his involvement with Dan Cody, and how Gatsby has been drawn to Daisy's beauty and to her way of living. Gatsby also describes how they became closer, how they continued their relationship while Gatsby was at war, how Daisy became increasingly desperate to make a decision about her life, and how the appearance of Tom Buchanan eased that decision.

At this point, day is breaking. Nick prepares to go to the city for work, but lingers for a couple of hours out of concern for Gatsby. When he goes, he says that Gatsby is worth more than anyone who ever attended his parties put together. 'It was the only compliment I ever gave him', he comments in narration, 'because I disapproved of him from beginning to end'.

An unproductive day of work is interrupted by Jordan, whose self-centered conversation results in an argument, and in Nick realizing he no longer cares for her. He then shifts the narration to events at Wilson's garage following the accident. While spending the night being comforted by Michaelis, Wilson reveals that a while ago his wife came back from the city with her face battered, that he found a dog's leash in her drawer, that he realized she was having an affair, and that he told her God would punish her. As he's telling the story, he comes to the conclusion that the affair was with the driver of the car that hit her and deliberately killed her. Th whole while, Wilson was looking out at the oculist's billboard. Narration then sums up Wilson's search, through the night, for the owner of the yellow car and how the search led him to Gatsby who, after ordering that his car not be disturbed and asking that he be called if a particular phone call came, went to the pool. As Nick was arriving, he and the servants heard shots coming from the pool. The chapter concludes with Nick's description of carrying Gatsby's body to the house, and of, while doing so, spotting Wilson's body nearby.

Themes and Character Analysis


His dreams not only about Daisy but about himself are in the process of falling apart.


Surprising reference to thinking badly of Gatsby from beginning to end. This doesn't quite have the right of truth, partly because at the beginning of the novel Nick seems to have at least some degree of empathy with Gatsby. Also, he tries to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, time to prove themselves to him. His statement here seems to belie that initial statement, implying that he formed a negative opinion of Gatsby right with his first impression. This, combined with Nick's actions in the following chapter (concealing the truth about Daisy's role in the accident from Tom), suggests that he (Nick) isn't quite the paragon of honesty he thinks himself to be and seems to want the reader to think he is. In other words, it is starting to look as though he may be as much of a self-fabricator as Gatsby, and therefore, an unreliable narrator.

The American Dream

The murder of Gatsby and the suicide of Wilson is the consequence of the self-interest of the Buchanans - and, by symbolic extension, the entire sub-class of self-absorbed wealthy people, those who live the American Dream that they themselves perverted. In other words, lower class striver Wilson, like his more desperately striving wife, and deluded Gatsby are all determined to establish some self-fulfillment through connection with, and absorption of, that dream, and all end up destroyed. This is because the self-serving, self-absorbed, success-oriented American Dream lived by the Buchanans, as opposed to the dignity and integrity-oriented version of the Dream arguably envisioned by the founders of America, simply has no time or space for them.