It's now two years later and Nick is recounting his memories of the days shortly after Gatsby's death. Wild rumors about Gatsby's relationship with Myrtle and Wilson swirl, and reporters and other gossips prowl around the mansion looking for stories.
In death, Gatsby is just as he was in life: little more than a rumor spread by Roaring Twenties "new money" socialites.
Nick finds himself the primary contact for all matters relating to Gatsby because nobody else wanted to be. Daisy and Tom disappear with no forwarding address, and Meyer Wolfsheim says he has pressing business and can't help at the present time.
The abandonment of Gatsby reveals the emptiness of the age. Wolfsheim and the Buchanans are all corrupt at heart.
Three days after Gatsby's death, a telegram arrives from his father, Henry C. Gatz. Mr. Gatz arrives in person at Gatsby's mansion a few days later. He appears old, dressed in cheap clothing, and is devastated by his son's death, who he believed was destined for great things. He asks Nick what his relationship was to Gatsby. Nick says they were close friends.
Gatz's appearance confirms that Gatsby rose from humble beginnings to achieve the American Dream. Yet in the process he left behind his father, who truly loves him. He gave up his past.
That night, Klipspringer calls. Nick tells him about the funeral. But Klipspringer says he can't attend because he has to attend a picnic in Greenwich, Connecticut. Klipspringer then asks if Nick could send to him a pair of tennis shoes he had left at Gatsby's mansion.
Gatsby's "new money" friends are shallow, emotionless parasites who care only about "fun."
Gatsby's funeral takes place the next day. In an effort to assemble more people to attend the service, Nick goes to New York to try to retrieve Wolfsheim in person. At his sketchy office, Wolfsheim discusses memories of his early days of friendship with Gatsby, whom he claims to have raised up "out of nothing." Nick tries to convince him to attend the funeral, but he refuses, citing a policy he has of not getting mixed up with murdered men.
Wolfsheim exhibits the worst qualities of the "new money" class: he is corrupt, selfish, and callous. By claiming to have raised Gatsby up from nothing, Wolfsheim essentially claims that money is everything.
Nick returns to Gatsby's house for the funeral. Only, Nick, Henry Gatz, and, to Nick's surprise, Owl Eyes show up. Owl Eyes pities Gatsby as a "poor son-of-a-bitch."
Owl Eyes' appearance at the funeral suggests that Gatsby, like the novels Owl Eyes admired, was a mere ornament.
Nick now describes The Great Gatsby as a story of the West since many of the key characters (Daisy, Tom, Nick, Jordan, Gatsby) involved were not from the East. He says that after Gatsby's death, the East became haunted for him.
The American Dream had long involved people moving west, to find work and opportunity. The novel documents a time when the tide had shifted the other way, as Westerners sought to join those making money in financial industries like "bonds" in the East. But now Nick seems to see such searching after wealth and status in the east as corrupt and deadening, as people returning to their past only to find ghosts.
Nick goes to Jordan Baker's house to set things straight with her. She tells him she is engaged to another man, though Nick doesn't really believe her. Then she accuses Nick of being dishonest with her. Nick leaves, feeling angry and sorry.
Nick thought his relationship with Jordan was superficial. But Jordan implies she really loved him. Nick, too, it appears, was corrupted by the East.
Later that October, Nick runs into Tom Buchanan on Fifth Avenue in New York. He refuses to shake Tom's hand, and learns that Tom was the one who told George Wilson that Gatsby ran over Myrtle. Tom adds also that he cried when he gave up the apartment in which he conducted his affair with Myrtle. Nick doesn't tell Tom that Daisy was at the wheel. He describes Tom and Daisy as careless people who destroy things and then retreat back into their money.
Tom doesn't even know that Daisy was really driving the car. Tom is completely blind to the emptiness of his old money world. He even sees himself as a victim for losing Myrtle, his mistress. His corruption is complete.
On his last night in West Egg before moving back home to Minnesota, Nick walks down to Gatsby's beach and looks out over Long Island sound. He wonders how the first settlers to America must have felt staring out at the "green breast" of the new continent, and imagines Gatsby's similar wonder when he realized that tiny blinking green light across the bay belonged to Daisy Buchanan.
Nick connects Gatsby's American Dream of winning Daisy's love to the American Dream of the first settlers coming to America. Both dreams were noble, and ultimately much more complicated and dangerous than anyone could have predicted.
Nick describes Gatsby as a believer in the future, a man of promise and faith. He compares everyone to Gatsby, moving forward with their arms outstretched like Gatsby on the shore, like boats beating upstream against the current, looking to the future but searching for a lost past.
Nick sees Gatsby as symbolic of everyone in America, each with his or her own great dream. And each dream an effort to regain a past already lost.