Why does Nick “want to go back a little and tell what happened at the garage” at this point in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

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Nick, usually a very careful storyteller, goes back at this point and fills us in on what happened with George Wilson after his wife's death, because he believes it is important his readers have this information. While he does not tell us that he heard this account from Michaelis, it is clear that he did from how he narrates the unfolding of events at the garage. To us as readers, this is an account that is filtered first through Michaelis and then through Nick before getting to us. Nevertheless, it sounds believable.

In this account, George is distraught after his wife's death as he tries to put two and two together about the affair and her being run over. He recounts a time a few months earlier when Myrtle came home with a bruised face and swollen nose. He realizes now that her lover was brutal to her. We as readers would remember the swollen nose from the time Tom hit Myrtle during the party that Nick attended in her apartment.

Nick includes this account because it builds sympathy for Wilson and helps us understand his anguish and why he might want to kill the man he held responsible for killing his wife.

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The phrase you mention is found in chapter eight of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby has died and Nick is on the train, passing by the ashheaps where Myrtle Wilson was killed. Because the story is told from Nick's point of view, we would never know what happened right after Myrtle was killed because Nick was not there to report it to us.

Instead, Fitzgerald uses Nick's seeing the ashheaps as a visual reminder to tell us what he has learned but has not yet had an opportunity to relate. This rhetorical device takes many forms in different works of literature, but here Nick says:

Now I want to go back a little and tell what happened at the garage after we left there the night before.

It is not really a flashback but it serves the same purpose. What he tells us is important to the resolution of the story, for without it we would never quite know how George Wilson ended up in Gatsby's backyard with a gun.

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