The Great Gatsby Chapter 9 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms

Last Updated: October 24th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

In The Great Gatsby, the final chapter, Chapter 9, is written two years after that fateful summer.

The Great Gatsby Chapter 9 Summary

Nick will describe what he experienced and his thoughts on everyone’s behavior. You won’t want to miss this chapter since Nick is very open and honest about what he sees.

If you missed the chapter before this, you can find The Great Gatsby chapter 8 summary here  or if you are short on time read my full summary of The Great Gatsby Book.

For Those Who are Short on Time:

Key Points Chapter 9 The Great Gatsby

  • Rumors are swirling about Gatsby and Myrtle. Reporters hoping for some juicy gossip swarm like flies around Gatsby’s mansion.
  • Nick tries to find anyone who will help him arrange Gatsby funeral but no one is willing to help. In fact, Nick can’t even get Gatsby’s friends, such as Meyer Wolfsheim, to attend the funeral.
  • That doesn’t stop everyone from looting Gatsby’s home. Nick kicks out most of the people when he realizes this.
  • A telegram arrives saying that Gatsby’s father will be coming to the funeral. Nick thought all of Gatsby’s relatives were dead, but this isn’t entirely true.
  • Klipspringer calls and asks Nick to mail him the tennis shoes he left behind. Nick hangs up on him.
  • The only people to attend the funeral are some servants, Owl Eyes, and Gatsby’s father. Daisy and Tom have left town and cannot be reached. Daisy does not even send flowers.
  • Nick tries to make things right with Jordan, but she tells him she’s engaged to someone else.
  • Nick sees Tom in New York and refuses to shake hands.
  • Nick takes one last look around Gatsby’s old house before returning to Minnesota.

What Happens in Chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby?

After Gatsby’s death, the newspapers and magazines are very interested in this juicy love-triangle. Reporters swarm the house, taking pictures of everything, making up stories about Gatsby and Myrtle (read Myrtle Wilson quotes here ), and probably stealing things as well.

Nick Tries to Gather Gatsby’s Friends & Associates

Nick starts looking for someone to not only help him make funeral arrangements but also to speak (or make an appearance, at the very least) at Gatsby’s funeral.

nick carraway, tom buchanan and daisy buchanan

Nick begins by trying to contact Daisy and Tom. The servant answering the phone says that the couple has left town, no forwarding address, no new phone number, and that he doesn’t even know where they’ve gone.

As you might expect, Nick is disgusted that Daisy has disappeared and that she didn’t even have the decency to send flowers.

Nick then tries Gatsby’s friends and business partners. Meyer Wolfsheim says he can’t get involved in a murder investigation. Klipspringer calls the house and tells Nick that he left his tennis shoes there and could he please send them or mail them to New York. Nick hangs up on him.

Nick Learns about the Young Jimmy Gatz

A telegram arrives at Gatsby’s house about 3 days after his death. It’s from Mr. Gatz saying that he was Gatsby’s father and he will be there for the funeral.

Nick had believed that all of Gatsby’s relatives were dead, so he wonders who this Henry Gatz is. When Gatsby’s father arrives, Nick gets a true understanding of where Gatsby came from.

old man walking in the park with a cane

Henry Gatz was dressed quite poorly, wearing a cheap suit and looking old and tired. He is devastated by his son’s death. He tells Nick that he always believed that the young Gatsby, whose real name was Jimmy Gatz, was destined for greatness, and Mr. Gatz is impressed by the house his son owned.

Gatsby’s father shows Nick an old book called Hopalong Cassidy that young Jimmy Gatz had owned as a young man. In the back was a to-do list of self-improvement steps. Mr. Gatz says that his son was never meant to live a life of poverty.

Nick decides he wants to impress Mr. Gatz with the number of people at Gatsby’s funeral. He goes to New York to try to persuade some of Gatsby’s business partners, such as Meyer Wolfsheim to attend the funeral, but no one will. Even Wolfsheim says that, despite watching Gatsby go from nothing to greatness, he can’t risk getting mixed up in a murder.

Only a Few People Attend Gatsby’s Funeral

a coffin and a candle at a wake

Nick holds the funeral that afternoon. The only people in attendance are a few servants, the postman, Gatsby’s father, Owl Eyes, and Nick. Owl Eyes looks down in pity at Gatsby as he lay in his coffin and says, “Poor son of a bitch”.

After the funeral, Nick tries to go on with his life in New York, working the bond business, but he can’t forget the horrible people and what happened that summer.

Nick calls Jordan, who tells him that she’s engaged to someone else and she doesn’t want to see him again.

Nick Refuses to Shake Tom’s Hand

While walking down Fifth Avenue in New York, Nick happens to see Tom. He refuses to shake his hand, and Tom seems surprised by this.

Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan

Tom tells Nick that George Wilson ( read George Wilson Quotes here )showed up at his house early on the morning of the murder. George was unhinged and had a gun. Tom told him where he could find Gatsby and the yellow car that had killed Myrtle.

Nick is disgusted and can’t believe Tom when he claims that he was heartbroken over Myrtle’s death and that Gatsby deserved to die.

After finally agreeing to shake Tom’s hand goodbye, Nick comes to the conclusion that Tom and Daisy are uncaring and careless people who destroy both people and things, knowing that their money will shield them from ever having to face any negative consequences.

Nicks Visits Gatsby’s Mansion for the Last Time

old man as henry gatz walking towards mansion

For Nick, New York and West Egg are haunted. He decides that he wants nothing to do with these people and he’s going to return to Minnesota.

He spends his last night walking through Gatsby’s house. He erases a nasty word someone had written on the wall. He walks by the dock where he first saw Gatsby reaching out for the green light at the end of Daisy’s boat dock.

Nick imagines what West Egg and East Egg might have looked like to the first settlers who landed there. He imagines a land where people had dreams like Daisy and Gatsby did, and he pictures a boat that no matter how hard the sailors paddled away, was constantly pushed back to the shore.

How Did Daisy React to Gatsby’s Death?

Daisy Buchanan

The truth is that the reader isn’t 100 percent certain that Daisy even knows that Gatsby had been killed.

With no television, only newspapers, it’s possible that Tom had kept the news from her. While Jordan might have told Daisy, we don’t know if she did that either since she was no longer living at Daisy’s house.

However, assuming that Daisy did know, her behavior is reprehensible. She doesn’t call the house. She doesn’t even bother to send flowers or a wreath. She doesn’t even say goodbye to Nick, despite knowing that he lives next door.

While Daisy might have thought it would be scandalous to attend the funeral of the man she claimed to love, she could have sent flowers from her and Tom. She could have asked Nick to buy some flowers for her.

Daisy doesn’t respond to Gatsby’s death or attend the funeral, and worse, she doesn’t admit that she was the one driving that night.

Tom and Daisy simply leave town and let their old-money status keep them safe from responsibility and scandal.

What Does Gatsby’s Empty House Symbolize in Chapter 9?

the great gatsby setting

The mansion itself represents success and the rewards of working hard and saving money. Once it has been ransacked by Gatsby’s associates, it shows how truly empty and pointless the American dream is because ( read Quotes of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby ), in the end, you can’t take it with you.

Top Quotes from Chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby

Some of the most memorable quotes in the books come from the very last chapter (and mostly from Nick).

At first, I was surprised and confused; then, as he lay in his house and didn’t move or breathe or speak hour upon hour it grew upon me that I was responsible, because no one else was interested—interested, I mean, with that intense personal interest to which everyone has some vague right at the end.

Nick begins to realize that no one is coming to help him with Gatsby’s funeral, and he feels it is his responsibility to give Gatsby the funeral he deserves.

Chapter 9 Top Quotes

I think it was on the third day that a telegram signed Henry C. Gatz arrived from a town in Minnesota. It was Gatsby’s father, a solemn old man very helpless and dismayed, bundled up in a long cheap ulster against the warm September day.

His eyes leaked continuously with excitement, and when I took the bag and umbrella from his hands, he began to pull so incessantly at his sparse grey beard that I had difficulty in getting off his coat.

He was on the point of collapse so I took him into the music room and made him sit down while I sent for something to eat. But he wouldn’t eat, and the glass of milk spilled from his trembling hand.”

Nick meets Gatsby’s father and hears some stories about the life of the young Jay Gatsby.

After Gatsby’s death, the East was haunted for me like that, distorted beyond my eyes’ power of correction. So when the blue smoke of brittle leaves was in the air and the wind blew the wet laundry stiff on the line, I decided to come back home.

Nick has had enough of New York and decided to return home to Minnesota.

I couldn’t forgive him (Tom) or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—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, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

Despite Tom’s explanation about how badly he felt about Myrtle’s death, Nick won’t ever forgive him, and the reader wonders if he will ever forgive Daisy.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…

And one fine morning—

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

This final line in the book is perhaps one of the most famous quotes from the entire novel.

Final Thoughts on Chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby

Of all the symbolism in this novel, the green light appears to be the strongest and most recurring one.

The reader is left with a final image of Gatsby, reaching for that green light, for his dreams that must have seemed so close he could touch them.

Unfortunately, the green light will remain forever out of his reach. Fitzgerald’s depressing ending explains to the reader that no matter how hard one might work, the American Dream is not real or obtainable. It is only possible to those who were lucky enough to be born rich.

The Great Gatsby Chapter 9 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms
The Great Gatsby Chapter 9 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms
Chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby is the final chapter that will leave you thinking about the book long after you have finished it. Short on time? Read our summary here.
Gatsby Flapper Girl