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When last we spoke, Jay Gatsby the sexy orphan war hero passed away peacefully in his sleep after being violently assassinated in his own swimming pool. He ultimately left the world jazzier and more adulterous than he found it. We’re now on the final chapter, and if there’s anything we’ve learned from all this, it’s that I should not write obituaries.
Now, think of the worst person you know. It could be the guy who asks about homework two minutes before the bell, or the guy who puts his mouth on the water fountain, or Kanye West. Whoever it is—whatever atrocities he may have committed—I bet he is still a better person than Tom Buchanan. I made jokes about you, Tom. I forgave you for your obscenely tight jodhpurs. I accepted you for the terrible, misogynistic, and downright bigoted person that you are, if only because you’re a character in a book I am reading and I had no other choice. And then you went and told George Wilson where to find Gatsby. Gatsby died because of the terrible things you and your wife did. What’s wrong with you? Get a conscience. Also looser pants.
Other things Tom is probably guilty of:
Worshipping false idols
Murdering Archduke Franz Ferdinand and blowing the powder keg of alliances, thus starting World War I
Checking out with more than 10 items in the express lane
Presumably, Tom did all of this to eliminate Gatsby as a rival love interest to Daisy. Alternate theory: Tom did all of this to eliminate Gatsby as a rival love interest to Nick, because he had to watch Nick and Gatsby having lunch together and mounting each other’s hydroplanes, and he was fifty shades of peanut butter and jealous. I don’t think this is entirely outside the realm of possibility.
Nick is trying to wrangle together a respectable funeral for Gatsby. But Gatsby really crapped up this thing called life—no one cares enough about him to attend. Daisy and Tom immediately get the hell out of Dodge. Nick keeps expecting Daisy to call, but she doesn’t. I’m not sure why he is expecting this. Nick can’t bear to think of Gatsby, always the life of the party, to be so bereft of companions in death. He pictures what Gatsby would say to him:
Look here, old sport, you’ve got to get somebody for me. You’ve got to try hard. I can’t go though this alone.
That’s our final “old sport.” Seems a bit sentimental. Realistically, I think it’d look more like:
Does my lawn look unkempt? I hope my lawn doesn’t look unkempt. If my lawn looks anything like the dilapidated nightmare jungle you’re cultivating over on your side of the street, old sport, I’m going to haunt you so hard. Maintain my lawn for me, will you? Trim my hedges. Polish my pornographic car. Tell my story.
Anyway, Nick calls a couple of people, including Klipspringer (the hobo who was straight-up living in Gatsby’s mansion) and Meyer Wolfshiem (Gatsby’s partner in crime). Klipspringer just wants his shoes back. The conversation with Wolfshiem plays out roughly like this:
NICK: So Jay Gatsby is dead. WOLFSHIEM: Wow. That’s just… wow. Awful. That is, overall, a bummer. NICK: I was thinking maybe you would come to the funeral. WOLFSHIEM: Yeah, but I was thinking maybe I wouldn’t? NICK: You were his closest friend. WOLFSHIEM: Look, here’s the thing—I don’t want to get mixed up in any of this. NICK: I don’t even know what that means. It’s not like you killed him. WOLFSHIEM: Maybe I did. NICK: No, you didn’t. WOLFSHIEM: I’m a criminal, Nick. I do a lot of things. Who’s to say? NICK: George Wilson killed him. This is an indisputable fact. Are you trying to imply that you may have had a hand in his murder just so you won’t have to go to the funeral? How lazy are you? WOLFSHIEM: Yeah, I gotta go. This conversation sure is taking a while to wrap up. But good luck and stuff.
Only two people besides Nick come to the funeral. The first is that one drunk guy who was hanging out in Gatsby’s library all the way back in chapter 3. The second is Gatsby’s father, Henry Gatz. Henry always knew that his son was destined for greatness—he figures that’s why Gatsby left their farm in Minnesota and hasn’t spoken to him in two years. Nick introduces himself by saying he and Gatsby were “close friends” rather than “we shared a magical bond that was forged in the fires of passion,” which is probably wise. They both wait for more people to show up, but nobody does. This hurts my heart.
Before moving back out to the Midwest, Nick decides he should probably break up with Jordan. Jordan says she’s already engaged to someone else. What a legend. They talk about Gatsby, Daisy, and bad drivers, and I know there’s a golf pun in here somewhere but I guess this isn’t the time.
Nick runs into Tom on the street. Tom mentions that he had to give up the city apartment he shared with Myrtle, so he suffered too, dammit, and how dare Nick suggest otherwise. I hope Tom loses everything when the stock market crashes. He goes on to say that there were dog biscuits in the apartment. Wilson said something similar in the last chapter, about the dog leash. Where is this mythical dog? We know Myrtle bought it. Maybe Nick has it. The guy may have lost everything, but at least he’s finally managed to replace the dog he lost in chapter 1 and fill the void in his cyborg heart.
Nick lies on Gatsby’s beach and reflects that people like Tom and Daisy are careless and destructive. He also reflects that Gatsby was chasing a shadow. He was looking for love in all the wrong places even though Nick, the literal boy next door, was here all along. (I threw that part in myself.) For real, though, Gatsby believed in the “orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.” He wanted something that was always just out of reach. He wanted a future that could only exist in the beating heart of nostalgia. This, then, is the real tragedy: that what Gatsby wanted wasn’t actually possible, and that he would always be reaching for something he could never catch.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go throw a party and pine after someone. It’s what Gatsby would’ve wanted. Thanks for sticking with me, old sports. We went on a journey together. Remember the spicy photography sex party? What a time. And speaking of old sports…
Old sports in this chapter: 1. Old sports overall: 44. I checked this online just now, and sources say there are actually 45, so I must’ve missed one. This is not surprising. With the frequency with which Gatsby was dropping old sports, one was bound to get by. Let’s just say there were upwards of 1,000 and be done with it.
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