Gone Girl

Gone Girl

by

Gillian Flynn

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Gone Girl: 55. Nick Dunne, The Night of the Return (1) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Nick arrives at the police station to find inside a scene that looks like a “holiday party gone awry.” People are drinking champagne and discussing the harrowing details of Amy’s ordeal, discussing how she escaped from Desi’s clutches by slashing his throat with a steak knife. Nick alone sees how absurd the story is—if Desi kept her tied up, how would she have gotten the knife? As Nick encounters Amy’s fawning fans and happy parents, he wonders what she will “become” now that she is the center of all this “worshipful” attention.
Nick is able to see the grotesque web Amy has woven in full as he walks into the police station. She has positioned herself at the center, like a spider, and is allowing everyone to thrash around, unknowing, firmly in her sights. He knows that being the center of attention will only make Amy worse—she is being rewarded for her cruelty, violence, and manipulations.
Themes
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Misogyny Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
Tanner and Betsy arrive with Go, and Nick senses the “bizarre” nature of their reunion—they are not sure what’s going on, and have no script for how to act. Jacqueline Collings arrives, her face a teary wreck, demanding to know where the “lying little bitch” who killed her son is. She tells anyone who will listen—the press included—that Amy murdered Desi in cold blood, and is lying about her entire story. No one heeds her, though, and the cops quickly usher her into another room. As Amy is brought out of the interrogation room, the paparazzi flood her with questions—the only questions Nick has for her, are the ones that have made up the “ominous refrain of [their] marriage.” He wonders what they have done to another, and what they will do next.
There are people, still, who challenge—or could challenge—Amy’s narrative, and upend the story she’s spun, but everyone’s swift dismissal of Jacqueline shows that any contradiction to Amy’s tale will be ignored and suppressed. Just as the cops and the public were quick to accept the narrative that Nick murdered his wife, they are now quick to accept Amy’s intricate story as truth.
Themes
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Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
The media follows Amy and Nick through streets like a “royal wedding procession” as they drive back to their house. Nick is floored by the abruptness which with they’ve returned home. Alone in the house, Nick expresses fear about sleeping under the same roof as Amy—but she insists that all she wants is to be with her husband. She promises Nick she forgives him—even when he states that all the videos he made were him just telling her what she wanted to hear, Amy insists that this is what makes them perfect for each other: how well they know one another’s wants and needs. Nick is forced to concede that Amy knows him better than anyone else in the world—the bond between them is “catastrophically romantic.”
Though Nick lured Amy home so that his name would be cleared and they could at last go their separate ways, Amy wants something else. She wants to pick up where they left off in New York—pretending to be the best versions of themselves and living a lie in order to satisfy one another’s worst desires for an idyllic, picture-perfect life.
Themes
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
Nick pulls himself back, telling Amy that he can’t be with someone who has killed a man. Amy tries to calm Nick down, insisting he has heard some “bad information” that he will need to forget if they are going to move forward as a couple. Nick demands to know the truth—the actual truth—of where Amy has been for the last month and a half. She orders him to take off his clothes.
Nick is not willing to swallow Amy’s lies so easily. He wants to know what he’s dealing with—and Amy is willing to tell him, as long as she knows that there’s no way anyone else will become privy to her story.
Themes
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Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
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After making sure that Nick isn’t wearing a wire, Amy strips herself and leads Nick into the shower, where she whispers her entire story into his ear. As the tells it, Nick is struck by what a good storyteller his wife truly is. After an hour, Amy is done with her story, and asks Nick to admit how “brilliant” it is. Amy suggests they get out of the shower and get into bed together, but Nick says he wants to sleep downstairs. Amy reminds Nick that she can still do “very bad things” to him. She tells Nick that she has saved some vomit laced with antifreeze—she reminds him how important it is to always have a “backup plan.”
Amy is delighted with the things she’s done—and the things she could still do if Nick challenges the public story they’ve told. Amy wants to be applauded for reclaiming and rewriting the story of her life, the one thing she’s always wanted to do.
Themes
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
After Amy goes to sleep, Nick calls Tanner and desperately relays the details of Amy’s deception—and the new threats she’s made. Tanner warns Nick to lay low and “play nice” until they find something they can use against Amy. Nick hangs up, furious, and again begins fantasizing about killing Amy. After a moment, he hears Amy call his name. He turns around to find her standing on the bottom of the stairs in her nightgown. She smiles at him and tells him to “play nice.”
Nick realizes in this passage that he is not safe anywhere—Amy will always be there, listening in and watching over, making sure he keeps their shared secret.
Themes
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Misogyny Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon