Gone Girl Summary and Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 43-page guide for “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 3 parts, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Media Manipulation and Good versus Evil.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a psychological thriller: a tale of a marriage gone cold and a sociopath who will stop at nothing to get revenge. Echoing the domestic noir genre, Flynn takes that genre one step further by incorporating several plot twists that subvert the reader’s expectations. Chief among the subverted expectations is the reader’s ability to trust the narrator. The novel consists of alternating chapters: one told by husband, Nick, and the other told by Amy, his wife. Both narrators in this story are lying, and the multiple shifts in point of view—as Nick tells his side of the story and Amy tells hers—result in an atmosphere of confusion about who is telling the truth.
The unreliability of both narrators forces the reader to constantly evaluate and analyze the information both Nick and Amy present. The reader must compare one version of the story to the other, and try to determine who is the “protagonist” or “good guy”, and “antagonist” or “bad guy.” If both of the narrators are “bad guys”, who is the “hero” here? Is All-American girl Amy a sociopath or an abused spouse? Is Nick Dunne simply a cheating husband or is he a killer?
On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne disappears. The subsequent police investigation centers on Amy’s husband, and soon the investigation of her disappearance turns into a murder investigation. Nick’s odd and inappropriate behavior soon brings him under the scrutiny not only of the police but also his family and friends.
In a series of twists, the story of their courtship and marriage unfolds, as told through Amy’s diary and Nick’s reminiscences. Amy and Nick meet at a party. Both are living in New York City; both are writers. They quickly fall in love and they marry about two years later. Things begin to fall apart when they both lose their jobs. When Nick’s mother falls ill with terminal cancer, they move back to his hometown of Carthage, Missouri to help care for her. At this point, their marriage begins to deteriorate rapidly.
Both Nick and Amy are deeply unhappy. Nick, working as a part-time college professor, begins an ongoing affair with a 23 year old student. One of the significant twists in the storyis that Nick doesn’t realize that Amy knows about the affair. Amy plots her revenge by staging her own disappearance and framing Nick for her murder.
Nick is not entirely innocent, however; he also engages inmind-games. As he follows the clues Amy has left for him in the form of their traditional anniversary treasure hunt, he realizes what she has done. Through television interviews, he convinces her that he is repentant and that she has won their marital power-play. She reappears, having framed an old college boyfriend for her “kidnapping”, whom she then murdered during her “escape”
Both Nick and Amy race to complete their versions of the story first in order to maintain the upper hand: Nick’s memoir portrays Amy as a murderess sociopath; Amy’s depicts herself as the victim of an unfaithful, selfish husband and an obsessed ex-boyfriend. Nick is dumbfounded when Amy tells him she is pregnant with their child: he destroys his tell-all memoir and agrees to stay in the marriage to protect his son from Amy. Amy, satisfied now that Nick is completely and permanently under her power, plans to publish her version of the story, hoping for a best-seller.