North Carthage, Missouri in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl

Carthage, Missouri Town Square PHOTO CREDIT: Maureen Didde. This photo is licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

“’Should I remove my soul before I come inside?’ Her first line upon arrival. It had been a compromise: Amy demanded we rent, not buy, in my little Missouri hometown, in her firm hope that we wouldn’t be stuck here long. But the only houses for rent were clustered in this failed development: a miniature ghost town of bank-owned, recession-busted, price-reduced mansions, a neighborhood that closed before it ever opened.”1

As young newlyweds in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Amy and Nick Dunne are happily married, working at their dream jobs, and residing in a high class New York apartment. Flash forward five years and we find the couple quietly despising each other, working menial jobs, and living in a neglected house in North Carthage, Missouri where Nick has forced them to move. While Nick goes off to work, Amy sits in their silent home, criticizing the poverty and despair of the suffocating town that surrounds her. Everything seems set for an eternity of being enclosed in a loveless, distrustful marriage. At least until Amy disappears the morning of her and Nick’s wedding anniversary. What follows is a desperate search through the rivers and rundown backyards of North Carthage for answers as to what happened to Amy Dunne, and why her husband looks so suspicious.

North Carthage is a city in Jasper County, Missouri, and is the setting for Gone Girl, a murder mystery. Gillian Flynn was born in Kansas City, Missouri and used this background to depict her characters’ home. Although the city is a source of resentment for both Amy and Nick, its true significance is in its crime-ridden buildings and plethora of psychologically damaged inhabitants. North Carthage serves as the playing ground on which Nick finds clues that prove him innocent, and the police find clues that prove him guilty.

Read more about Carthage, Missouri on Wikipedia. Find book at a local library or on Amazon.

1Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl: A Novel. New York: Crown, 2012. Print.

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  1. North Carthage is actually a fictional town, not to be confused with Carthage. The real town that Gillian Flynn had in mind for the location of North Carthage is Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and that is also where the movie was filmed. She talks about this in an interview she did for the Southeast Missourian,