Gone Girl Symbols and Motifs

Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

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Gone Girl Symbols and Motifs

Mississippi River/Hannibal 

The Mississippi river runs through in the background ofthe novel. For example, Nick and Amy’s house lies directly on the Mississippi river. Hannibal, a city on the Mississippi, also figures prominently in the treasure hunt and in Nick’s childhood and teenage years. As the home of Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Hannibal is a tourist attraction, and Nick worked there as Huck Finn as a teenager. Amy is also symbolically tied to Huck Finn when she fakes her own death, just as Huck does in Twain’s novel. Amy also threatens to send Nick “up the river,” a symbol for prison, for her murder. The river therefore symbolizes the inability to escape.

Amy’s Treasure Hunt

Amy’s anniversary treasure hunt symbolizes the reality of her marriage to Nick. On the surface, it appears to be a loving, romantic gesture that celebrates another year of marriage, just as Nick and Amy pretend that they have a happy marriage. Underneath, however, the treasure hunt symbolizes Amy’s rage that Nick doesn’t love her or “get” her enough.

Every year, Nick fails to solve the clues, which are typically based around details of the past year from Amy’s perspective: things Amy loved, places Amy visited. The treasure hunt summarizes Amy’s need for constant attention and approval. Furthermore, the overblown nature of these hunts, leading to an extravagant present for Nick, hints at her megalomania, because the clues are all about Amy’s year, not their year together.  When Nick fails to solve the clues, Amy becomes angry and denigrates him: he’s an incompetent, unobservant, jerk, unworthy of her loving efforts.

On their fifth anniversary, Amy turns the treasure hunt into the ultimate mind-game; on the surface the clues and letters seem to say that she loves and adores Nick, but really, they tell him that she knew about his affair all along. The treasure hunt leads Nick on a search through all the places where he cheated on Amy with his mistress Andie, and it culminates in a chilling present: Punch and Judy puppets.

Punch and Judy Puppets

The Punch and Judy puppets echo Flynn’s notion of…

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