Gone Girl

Gone Girl

by

Gillian Flynn

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The Punch and Judy Puppets Symbol Analysis

The Punch and Judy Puppets Symbol Icon

Amy’s five-year-anniversary gift to Nick is a pair of wooden puppets made to look like Punch and Judy, stock characters from puppet theater. As the novel unfolds, the puppets come to symbolize the violence and decay in Nick and Amy’s marriage as well as the nature of their relationship itself from the very beginning. The five-year anniversary is traditionally the “wood” anniversary, and though as Nick has been solving Amy’s labyrinth, traditional treasure hunt with the expectation that he’ll find an antique wooden cradle at the end (since, in the wake of Amy’s disappearance, evidence has emerged to suggests that she was or is pregnant), the present Amy has selected for him is far more sinister. The Punch and Judy show is a notoriously violent puppet routine passed down through oral tradition—in one popular iteration of the action, Punch kills Judy and her baby. The Punch and Judy puppets Amy selects for Nick’s gift are antique and grotesque—the Judy puppet has a tiny baby puppet attached to her belly on a string and is suspiciously missing the large wooden handle which animates the puppet.

As Nick and Go inspect the puppets together after finding them in Go’s woodshed—along with a mountain of expensive and ridiculous purchases Amy has been making on credit cards in Nick’s name—she wonders whether Judy’s lack of a handle is symbolic of Judy’s femaleness. She suggests that Amy has left the present to show Nick that he is nothing more than a puppet on a string—Amy is behind the scenes, manipulating everything from afar, while Nick helplessly watches the evidence of his “murder” of his wife mount around him. Nick and Amy have been acting according to scripts, playing roles they believe the other will like—Amy has been masquerading as a hip, laid-back “Cool Girl” while Nick has tried to smother his average, Midwestern roots and his family’s history of violence and misogyny. Nick and Amy have turned themselves and one another into puppets—and the gift of Punch and Judy shows that Amy is ready at last to reckon with the full measure of what she and Nick have done to one another over the years, and make him pay for the ways in which he’s altered the course of her life and her very being.

The Punch and Judy Puppets Quotes in Gone Girl

The Gone Girl quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Punch and Judy Puppets. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Crown Publishers edition of Gone Girl published in 2012.
31. Nick Dunne, Seven Days Gone (2) Quotes

I looked at the puppets. “So she’s giving me the narrative of my frame-up.”

“I can’t even wrap my brain around this. Fucking psycho.”

“Go?”

“Yeah, right: You didn’t want her to be pregnant, you got angry and killed her and the unborn baby.”

“Feels anticlimactic somehow,” I said.

“The climax is when you are taught the lesson that Punch never learns, and you are caught and charged with murder.”

“And Missouri has the death penalty,” I said. “Fun game.”

Related Characters: Nick Dunne (speaker), Margo “Go” Dunne (speaker), Amy Elliott Dunne
Related Symbols: The Punch and Judy Puppets
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Punch and Judy Puppets Symbol Timeline in Gone Girl

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Punch and Judy Puppets appears in Gone Girl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
31. Nick Dunne, Seven Days Gone (2)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
Nick opens the box to find two wooden puppets, side by side. There is a husband puppet and a wife puppet—beneath the wife puppet... (full context)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Misogyny Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
Inside, Go and Nick arrange the puppets on the dining table and try to figure out the full picture of what’s going... (full context)
47. Nick Dunne, Ten Days Gone (3)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...the narrative towards Amy’s innocence. Even when Nick and Tanner produce the Punch and Judy puppets, Boney points out that Judy is missing her handle—an item as heavy and solid as... (full context)
51. Nick Dunne, Thirty-Three Days Gone
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...in the living room. On the coffee table is a plastic evidence bag, containing the Judy puppet ’s missing handle. Boney says they found it in the river behind the house early... (full context)
53. Nick Dunne, Forty Days Gone
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...on the morning of their anniversary. She says she was holding the handle to the Judy puppet when she opened the door, because it had fallen off while she was getting the... (full context)