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In The Great Gatsby, who comes to Gatsby's funeral? Why does almost no one attend?

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mickel | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 18, 2009 at 6:56 PM via web

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In The Great Gatsby, who comes to Gatsby's funeral? Why does almost no one attend?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 18, 2009 at 7:13 PM (Answer #1)

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Gatsby's funeral service is described in Chapter IX.The only people who come to Gatsby's funeral are Nick, the minister, Henry Gatz (Gatsby's father), four or five servants, the West Egg postman, and Owl Eyes (the man who attended one of Gatsby's parties).

Gatsby's business partner, Wolfsheim, did not come because he was a gangster and did not want to be publicly linked with Gatsby. Tom and Daisy did not come because they had left town to avoid any investigation into Myrtle Wilson's death and Gatsby's death. (Remember, it was Daisy who drove the car that killed Myrtle.) The hundreds of people who came to Gatsby's parties did not come because they had no relationship with Gatsby; they only came to his house to eat his food, drink his liquor, and have a good time. They used him, in other words.

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krounds | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 29, 2014 at 8:01 PM (Answer #2)

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Only a small smattering of individuals attend Jay Gatsby's funeral, including a few servants, the West Egg post man, the minister overseeing the service, Owl Eyes, Nick, and most tragically, Henry Gatz, Gatsby's father. 

Nick appears to be the closest person to Gatsby, although he's known him only briefly, so he takes on the responsibility of calling round to the other people he would expect to attend. When he reaches Wolfsheim, it becomes clear that the gangster would not be attending the funeral in spite of their close working relationship. Perhaps this is because Wolfsheim would prefer not to be seen as an associate of Gatsby's. 

Nick also calls over to Daisy and Tom's home asking as to whether they will attend the funeral, only to be told they have left town with no forwarding address or set date to return home. It is implied that they are evading the investigation of Myrtle's death, as Daisy was the one to actually run her down in Gatsby's car.

Nick sums up the Buchanan's attitude and behavior well when he says, "they were careless people,” for 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.”

And of all the people to attend Gatsby's parties only one showed, Owl Eyes. The lack of attendance implies the transient nature of the American Dream and the valuelessness of material things. Gatsby collected things the same way most people collect friends, and in the end he was alone.

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