Thursday, February 17, 2011

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side of Paradise was the first of many novels written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who today is best known for his later novel, The Great Gatsby. Amory Blaine, the main character in Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, starts out as a privileged young boy, born to a prestigious and wealthy family with a bright future ahead of him. He spends his childhood traveling the world with his mother, and eventually ends up at Princeton University after nonchalantly coasting his way through prep school. However, things begin to turn around for Blaine when he reaches campus. When he fails one of his courses, he finds that he is no longer able to get away with doing the bare minimum. From that point on, he turns himself over to idleness.
As the end of his time at Princeton approaches, America enters World War Two, and Blaine enlists to fight. Things again seem to take a turn for the worst for Amory; while he is away, his mother dies. He returns soon after and falls madly in love with Rosalind Connage, the sister of an old college friend. However, this time period was very much so based on social standing in the community, and poor investments had left Amory broke. To add insult to injury, it was for this reason that Rosalind broke off their engagement - how could she ever marry a poor man?
After the engagement is broken off, Armory realizes that he needs to find out who he is. As a child he was defined by the wealth and social standing of his mother. As a young adult, he was defined as a student, a war hero, and a lover. But now as he comes of age and see the difficulties that life presents, he finds that self discovery is necessary for survival and success.

Discussion Questions:
1. This book takes place in the 20's, a time period where status was everything. It determined the clothes you wore, the people you associated yourself with, the restaurants you ate at, etc. How is the idea of social standings is different today than it was back then?

2. If you were alive in this time period and were in the shoes if Rosalind, would you choose love or money? Explain why.

3. By the end of the novel, Amory discovers that knowing who you are is the most important key to being successful. Do you agree? Why or why not?

22 comments:

allie s 11-12 said...

-to answer the second question, money is very important, but i believe love is better. So i would choose love. Money can only make you somewhat happy, but with love, you dont need money. You just need each other.
-Knowing who you are i think is the most important thing to be successful. I think that because once you know who you are and your comfortable then you will be successful at anything you do.

Leah A 5-6 said...

For the second question, I agree. Yes, it is nice to have money, but I would not give up love for it. If I truly loved someone I would pick them, then try to get enough money to survive.

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

I feel that judging others based on social standing really isn't that much different today than it was in the 1920's. It seems that people today are still very critical of others, always making assumptions based off of how a person dresses, where they live, etc. We live in a competitive society in the United States, and everyone is always trying to out do others. This side of our culture has been around for decades, is still around today, and will likely continue into the future.
To answer question 2, I would always choose love over money. Money can only give you happiness for so long. You can have all the material items you want, travel as much as you want, etc., but if you have no one to share the experiences with I feel that it would not be enjoyable at all.

JessieW 11-12 said...

3) I do agree that knowing who you are is the most important key to being successful. When you know who you are, it is easier to choose the right "path" to follow in life. The happier you are with the direction of your life, the harder you'll try and the more successful you'll be.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

1) I think that social standings still exist today but people aren't as concerned with them. I think that sometimes one can tell who has more money than someone else but in the end, that's not what people are focusing on.
2) I know that I would like to think I would choose love over money, but when it comes down to it, I don't know. If I were in that time period, I might follow what everyone else does and marry for money. It is hard to say what I would actually do just because I won't ever live then.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. In some areas I believe that people are still concerned with social status. In a setting like school, some kids reject others who don't dress in expensive and/or similar clothing. Some places people are judged by the kinds of cars they drive or how high their education is. I think the negative effects of not being in a high enough status is not as noticeable or prominent as it may have been back then.
2. I would choose love because you always have more chances to make more money or find ways but you don't get as many chances to be with someone you love.
3. I agree completely with this. Knowing who you are makes things easier. You are more confident, know your morals and values, what you are capable of handling and much more. You would be able to find your own key to success.

Hannah L 13-14 said...

3. I think that knowing who you are plays an extremely important part in being successful because if you do not know who you are then how can you succeed in anything? I believe that to truly be successful you need to be happy with what you are doing, along with doing well and I think that in order to be happy you need to know who you are which in turn will affect how "successful" you are in the things that you do.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

To answer question 1 I feel as though the idea of social standings is the same today as it was then. Obviously, there has been minor changes, but your social status is still very much based on how much money you make, your appearence, and who you know. Things like this have stood the test of time and still really decide ur social standing amongst your peers.

Eric Y 13-14 said...

For question one, the social standings do not seem to be very different today than they were in the '20s. Most people seem to base their opinions solely on first impressions and do not care for who the person really is. However, someone today, who was poor, has a better oppurtunity to become part of the upper class than someone back in the day.

Laura B. 13-14 said...

1) I feel that today, social standing is not only based upon material things, but also the personality and intelligence of a person.

2) I would chose love over money because true love cannot be bought. There is no value placed upon a persons true feelings, only ones that they are willing to front.

tyler k 13-14 said...

Answering question three, i agree since money or status does not always assure happiness. Its all about what makes you happy and discovering who you really are and where you fit into the world.

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

3) I agree that the key to being successful is knowing who you are. A person who knows who they are, is aware of both their strengths and their weaknesses. It is vital to understand both your strengths and weaknesses because you can them use them strategically to move forward in your life. A person who knows who they are can keep themselves in check and focus their energy on ways to improve themselves.

Cieran B. 5-6 said...

3. Knowing who you are is the most important key to being successful because it is best to be yourself. By doing this you know your strengths and weaknesses so u can stay within your known limits and raise your success to new heights.

David G. 13-14 said...

3. I completely agree. Knowing who you are and what makes you happy is the only way to truly assure your own happiness and success. Knowing how to use your strengths to your advantage and avoiding your weaknesses is the best way to make sure that you are successful as a person.

LibbyS5/6 said...

I feel like in today's society we try not to focus too heavily on peoples clothing and status, however we are not always successful at that. We have come a long way compared to how important status was in the twenties, however it is still somewhat a factor.

Alexander C. [13-14] said...

three.

Self discovery is important for some individuals because they want to know how others benefited from their existence. It is almost a selfish way to view things. They want to know how others felt about the goods things they've done their lives. I like to live my life as if no one were to recognize my kind acts that I try to do everyday. I don't need big golden eagles or other types of awards to know that I've done a good job at what I am doing at the time.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

1. I think that social status today stands as a basis of how one lives one's life, rather than being the main factor like back in the 1920's. Today social status may only determine how one lives due to where they live, as individuals with similar social statuses usually live near each other. I feel that this decreases the importance of social status, but it still does play a small role in how we live today.

Allie H 11-12 said...

Answering question number 3, I do believe that knowing who you are is the most important key to being successful. Yeah, having a lot of money and material objects may make you feel successful, but the real success a person feels is knowing who they are. It is a nice feeling grounded on your beliefs and sure of who you are, and that is what I think makes you feel most successful in life.

Emily C. 13-14 said...

I feel like people guava their own social standards and judge people based on the material objects they have or lack, but it is not as prevalent in society as a whole in the way that they exist, but not everything is based off if them

Kara K. 5/6 said...

I feel that social standings today do not play a huge role like they did back then. I feel that money does play somewhat of a role in how one lives their lives, but it does not fully shape them. Some people who are rich, may still live in a small house. You must know who you are to be successful. If you do not know yourself, then you are unable to figure out what is good or bad for you. Once you know your beliefs, that makes you able to know how to live your life. If one does not know who they are, they are unable to even really live a life.

James F (11-12) said...

1.in reality this is basically the view in todays world. the more stuff you have means the better person you are in most peoples eyes. along with that...the nicer this stuff is the higher status you achieve.
2.i would choose love because love is something that i guess you can say never dies. even if you love multiple people you can always love. money is not as permanent. its just an object.
3.i agree because if you cannot be true to yourself then you cant succeed. knowing who you are and what youre capable of is key to success in life.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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