The Great Gatsby: Novel Summary: Chapter 8
In Fitzgerald's eighth chapter, Nick awakes with a start near dawn after Chapter 7's occurrences, feeling the ominous need to tell Gatsby something, "something to warn him about and morning would be too late" (154). Going next door Nick finds a dejected Gatsby, who relates that nothing had happened during his late night vigil watching Daisy's window. Gatsby proceeds to tell Nick the story of Daisy and his month of love -- now five years past --
before he went abroad to war. Please see Chapter 4 for a more detailed account of this story.
After Nick leaves Gatsby's for work he talks with Jordan Baker -- whom he treated curtly the night before -- on the telephone. Nick no longer cares how Jordan feels he acted -- he has lost patience with all of his friends except for Gatsby, who he tries calling repeatedly from work. This concern foreshadows Nick's next revelation.
The second half of Chapter 8 details George Wilson's actions following Myrtle's death. Wilson incorrectly believes that the man in the yellow car (Gatsby) was Myrtle's secret lover, and that he murdered her when she ran out to see him. Although Wilson does not know that Tom Buchanan was Myrtle's lover, and that Daisy Buchanan was her killer, he repeatedly insists he has "a way of finding out" (168). Wilson's mental condition has progressed from
bad earlier in the day to worse, as he begins referring to a nearby
optometrist's billboard -- with the enormous eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg on it -- as "God" (167). For a closer look at this image, please see the Metaphors section.
At six in the morning -- about the same time Nick awoke with concern for Gatsby -- Wilson left his garage on foot in search for his wife's murderer. After disappearing for several hours of unaccounted time, Wilson ended up in West Egg asking for directions to Gatsby's house. Wilson shoots Gatsby, murdering him, then kills himself. As Nick remarks after seeing both bodies,
"the holocaust was complete" (170).