Study Guide

Gone Girl Chapter 1

By Gillian Flynn

Chapter 1

Nick Dunne—The Day of

  • Part 1—titled "Boy Loses Girl"—opens with Nick giving us a borderline creepy description of his wife Amy's head, including its perfect shape and the springs of neurons bundled up in her brain. He says he spends a lot of time wondering what she's thinking about and even who she is, which aren't really great questions to be asking about someone you're married to. Right off the bat, something smells a little funny about this relationship.
  • Nick wakes up at precisely six in the morning in the house he and Amy are renting along the Mississippi River in Nick's hometown of Carthage, Missouri. The house itself is a foreclosure in a soulless development neighborhood where every residence looks the same; Amy really isn't a big fan, but Nick claims that he shouldn't be blamed for their having to move.
  • Let's back up a little and learn something about our characters' lives before the story. Nick used to be a New York magazine writer—at least until the Internet ate the publishing industry and caused tons of layoffs, including his. Then, three weeks after Nick got the boot, Amy got canned by her job too. How romantic.
  • Lost jobs weren't the only factor that played a role in their move to Carthage, though, and shortly after all this job loss went down, Nick's twin sister, Margo (a.k.a. Go), called to inform him that their parents were both dying. In light of this news, Nick agreed to move back home, despite Go's reservations that Amy wouldn't be too thrilled about this.
  • Downstairs, Amy is banging around in the kitchen making breakfast, which she evidently doesn't do very often. Today, though, is a special day: Amy and Nick's fifth wedding anniversary. If you think this is an occasion for celebration, though, think again—Nick has a great deal of anxiety about it and doesn't even want to go downstairs. He feels uneasy about the distant, chilly feeling he has toward his wife.
  • Nick goes to work at the bar he started with Go after he moved back home. It's literally called The Bar, which you probably either think is totally awesome or totally lazy. Nick sees opening The Bar as a reclaiming of his adulthood after losing his job as a writer—no matter how much the Internet has taken over the world, people will always need a place to party and drink.
  • As he passes the bowling alley next door, Nick notices the insistent, steady motion of the river and a line of men walking parallel to it. We're not really sure what they're doing—they could be homeless, or a chain gang of prisoners, or people waiting for The Bar to open. Either way, Nick is extremely disturbed by the fact that one of them makes eye contact with him, and he just wants to get inside.

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