Gone Girl

Gone Girl

by

Gillian Flynn

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The Woodshed Symbol Icon

The woodshed at the back of Go Dunne’s property in Carthage, Missouri, comes to symbolizes how secrets and lies build up over the course of any marriage or profound romantic relationship until they come to a head and burst. At first, the woodshed appears to be in a state of disuse and disrepair, and is thus ignored by Nick, Amy, and Go alike. Over the course of the novel, however, the woodshed emerges as a very crucial site. As Nick completes the treasure hunt left behind for him by Amy—in celebration of their fifth anniversary, ostensibly, but in reality a tour of all the sites of his infidelity with his mistress Andie—Nick is forced to admit to his sister (and his readers) that he has used to woodshed as an escape and a place to have sex with his mistress without being discovered. Nick is worried when he realizes that the last stop on Amy’s treasure hunt is the woodshed itself—but as he swings open its doors for the first time in months, he is horrified to see that Amy has filled it with expensive, ridiculous, and incriminating credit card purchases ranging from luxury golf clubs to violent, misogynistic pornography.

Amy has manipulated the contents of the woodshed and stuffed it full of things meant to incriminate Nick and make him look guilty so that he can be indicted for her murder (her months-long plot to take revenge on Nick for his affair), but as Nick confronts the items inside, he’s forced to realize once and for all how the secrets, lies, and half-truths he’s kept from his wife—and the ones she’s kept from him—have destabilized their marriage to the point of hatred and utter lunacy. Though Nick doesn’t play golf or watch violent porn, he does harbor secret misogynistic beliefs and often fantasizes about killing Amy for attempting to destroy him—and his aimlessness and directionless in the wake of his layoff from his magazine job is so odious to Amy that she is perhaps trying to get Nick to draw a connection between the idle, slow pursuit of golf and the stagnancy they’ve both faced since losing their jobs and moving to Missouri. The woodshed contains all the dark parts of Nick and Amy’s quiet resentments of one another, and symbolizes the “home” they’ve made for their worst thoughts, darkest fantasies, and cruelest suspicions about one another.

The Woodshed Quotes in Gone Girl

The Gone Girl quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Woodshed. 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

[Amy] knew she’d punish me good. Now at our final stop, Amy was ready for me to know how clever she was. Because the woodshed was packed with about every gizmo and gadget that I swore to Boney and Gilpin I hadn’t bought with the credit cards I swore I didn’t know anything about. The insanely expensive golf clubs were here, the watches and game consoles, the designer clothes, they were all sitting here, in wait, on my sister’s property. Where it looked like I’d stored them until my wife was dead and I could have a little fun.

Related Characters: Nick Dunne (speaker), Amy Elliott Dunne
Related Symbols: The Woodshed
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:
60. Amy, Eight Weeks After the Return Quotes

I have a book deal: I am officially in control of our story. It feels wonderfully symbolic. Isn’t that what every marriage is, anyway? Just a lengthy game of he-said, she-said? Well, she is saying, and the world will listen, and Nick will have to smile and agree. I will write him the way I want him to be: romantic and thoughtful and very very repentant—about the credit cards and the purchases and the woodshed. If I can’t get him to say it out loud, he’ll say it in my book. Then he’ll come on tour with me and smile and smile.

I’m calling the book simply: Amazing.

Related Characters: Amy Elliott Dunne (speaker), Nick Dunne
Related Symbols: The Woodshed
Page Number: 406
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Gone Girl LitChart as a printable PDF.
Gone Girl PDF

The Woodshed Symbol Timeline in Gone Girl

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Woodshed appears in Gone Girl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
29. Nick Dunne, Seven Days Gone (1)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...Amy has been a bad girl and needs to be “punished” makes Nick think of woodshed—there is a woodshed behind Go’s house which she hardly ever uses. Go and Nick have... (full context)
31. Nick Dunne, Seven Days Gone (2)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
Nick leans against the inner wall of the woodshed, catching his breath. As soon as he deciphered the clue, he knew whatever was inside... (full context)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Misogyny Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
Nick drags Go out to the woodshed to show her what’s going on. He tells her that Amy is framing him for... (full context)
35. Nick Dunne, Eight Days Gone (1)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...belong to Amy at Nick’s office, a purse in Hannibal, and credit-card purchases in the woodshed. With equal parts horror and intrigue, Tanner asks Nick what Amy could have possibly hidden... (full context)
37. Nick Dunne, Eight Days Gone (2)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...whatever shreds of reliability Nick has left. He wants to report the stuff in the woodshed, but both knows that once they do the cops will go after Go, and is... (full context)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...many ways in which the cops could see any admissions about the items in the woodshed, or Andie, as evidence of Nick’s guilt rather than Amy’s plan, he asks Nick to... (full context)
41. Nick Dunne, Nine Days Gone
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...that it’s an optimal time to go to the police about the contents of the woodshed. Nick asks Tanner what the plan is. Tanner reveals that he’s set up an interview... (full context)
45. Nick Dunne, Ten Days Gone (2)
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...in town, however, the cops are waiting at Go’s house—with a warrant to search the woodshed. (full context)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Misogyny Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...allow Andie to give a press conference, and then Boney leads Nick out to the woodshed. Tanner follows along, trying to bait Boney with an “explosive new theory,” but she has... (full context)
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...with the fact that Nick’s fingerprints are all over every piece of evidence in the woodshed—including the violent pornography. Nick realizes that Amy must have brought the items into their bedroom... (full context)
49. Nick Dunne, Fourteen Days Gone
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...delivers the news that the public once again hates Nick—someone leaked the information about the woodshed and its contents, and Nick is now in the public’s crosshairs once more. (full context)
63. Nick Dunne, Twenty Weeks After the Return
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Narrative Theme Icon
...manuscript, and sign an affidavit that it was he who bought the stuff in the woodshed and hid it there, and that though he once thought Amy had framed him, everything... (full context)