Gone girl is a quiet thriller, with little blood, some mystery, and a whole lot of character development. At first glance, it would be hard to say that there was any character development at all. I was at first inclined to criticize Flynn for her capricious characters, especially Nick, but partly Amy. What terribly disconcerting character arcs, I thought. Stupid waffling characters, what is this? But, then I saw that there must have been a plan. Nick and Amy are not your standard everyday husband and wife, but rather are symbolic representations of the fickleness of today’s society.
Take Nick: Missourian, transplanted to New York to be a writer for a magazine. The recession hits, he loses his job, and thereafter has to exist being supported by his somewhat wealthy (by this point) wife. His mother gets sick and they move from New York to Missouri to help take care of her. Nick becomes enmeshed in an affair wit ha young girl. He doesn’t know, but Amy finds out. And his cluelessness leaves him open for Amy’s plot to frame him for her murder. Once in the investigation, he acts like a guilty and cold man, turning public sentiment against him, Amy’s plan all along. He does not redeem himself until he starts faking shit.
Amy, our dark side Mary Sue, does everything perfectly, or well enough to fool the police anyway. She gets away, disguises herself and tries to live amongst mere mortals. She is perfect, or so she thinks. She is never wrong, but everyone else can be. She plays on, and receives everyone’s sympathy, from her fictionalized representation in her mother and father’s book series ‘Amazing Amy’ on down to her return from the supposed dead. She is said to plan things meticulously, and that is what helps her to get away with everything. She’s too good to be true, the wife of nightmares, for sure.
Both Nick and Amy waffle back and forth between their love/hate feelings for each other throughout the book. Bad writing? No, because it suits the narrative perfectly. A large part of the book focuses on Nick’s treatment in the media. Control the public image and you can sway the sheeple, right? And that’s pretty much what happens with both of them. Amy kills Desi because he has sort of trapped her in his house, but also because she didn’t want to return and be the most hated woman in the world. She stages her return. Nick stages his on camera interviews and his public image. They both want everyone to like them, and use their on stage manners to do so.
That is what it is all about, isn’t it? All the world’s a stage and we are nothing but actors playing a role. Amy might be a psycho bitch, but we would never no that from anyone but Nick and his sister Go. Nick might be cold and distant, but we would never know it from his interview with Sharon Sceiber.
Think Facebook, Instagram, selfie culture, and all other social media. We are always selling ourselves, but only the best of ourselves (for most of us, anyway). And our society is driven almost in toto by the number of likes we get, the number of shares our post has, the number of comments we get. We are a society obsessed more with self-image than with self-development. Who cares if I’m a vapid, two-faced bitch as long as I look good while I’m doing it? Cue Amy.
In the end the only person I feel sorry for in this whole mess is the baby. The poor little thing is coming into a family (read society) of manipulation and faked emotion. This is the path re made from the first steps of the Enlightenment? Oh, I sigh, and sign off by thanking Ms Flynn for her somewhat engaging novel of a tumultuous marriage and an allegory of our macro-interpersonal relationships.