The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What is the meaning of Gatsby's death in The Great Gatsby, symbolically or literally?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Following Myrtle's brutal death in chapter seven, Tom Buchanan blames her murder on Jay Gatsby and directs the distraught, vengeful George Wilson to Gatsby's mansion in the West Egg. In chapter eight, George Wilson walks from the valley of ashes to Gatsby's estate. Upon arriving, he shoots and kills Gatsby before committing suicide. Nick is left with the responsibility of organizing Gatsby's funeral. Tom and Daisy Buchanan skip town and hide behind their wealth.

Literally, Gatsby's tragic death brings the narrative to a close and motivates Nick to move back to the Midwest after ending his relationship with Jordan Baker. By leaving the East Coast, Nick seeks a respite from the immorality, corruption, and violence he experienced throughout the summer.

One can interpret Jay Gatsby's death to figuratively represent the futility of the American Dream. In many ways, Gatsby's quest for Daisy was analogous to the pursuit of attaining the American Dream. Although Gatsby successfully climbed the social...

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