Sunday, April 17, 2011

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This story begins with Amory Blaine, son of the wealthy Beatrice. This is the story of his life, and it begins with his early childhood. As a child, Amory travels all over the world with just his mother, as he does lack a father in his life. Fortunately for him, a good friend of his mother's, Monsignor Darcy, serves as a father figure to the boy. As he reaches his teenage years, he attends a prep school in New England, known as St. Regis. Amory fits in well, as he is very boastful and rather stuck up, coming from such a wealthy background. He is also very good-looking and intelligent. Despite the fact that he is very lazy with his work, he is accepted to and decides to attend Princeton following his graduation and departure from St. Regis.

As he finds himself as a new freshmen student at Princeton, his old habits surface again. He becomes lazy and ends up failing one of his classes. He decides that he does not enjoy learning through structered classes. Instead, he'd rather learn by simply discussing certain topics with people outside of the classroom setting. He continues to struggle throughout his college years, and eventually abandons his degree as he enlists during World War I.

While overseas, Amory's mother passes away. He returns to America shortly after and meets the lovely Rosalind Connage. Unfortunately, Amory is left with very little money, and Rosalind refuses to marry into a poor family, despite the love that they share with each other. Amory is left heartbroken as she breaks off the engagement in order to marry a wealthier man.

The purpose of the story is for Amory to find his true self. He works toward this as he experiences more heartbreak and hardship. He is left with no money, and his father figure, Monignor, passes away. Amory decides that the best bet for him would be to return to Princeton, and he does so by walking there. He hopes to one day be able to win over Rosalind. He feels that he has figured out who he is, but he lacks knowledge about the rest of the world around him. After returning to Princeton, Amory says, "I know myself...but that is all" (Fitzgerald 322).

Discussion Questions:

1. Social class plays a very large role in this novel, as Amory is denied by Rosalind simply because of his poverty. How important is social standing to Amory, as well as to the rest of society at this time? Would this same thing happen in today's society? Why or why not?

2. Some critics have labeled this as being a tragic novel. Do you feel that Fitzgerald incorporated tragedy into this story? Why or why not?


Megan L.11-12 said...

I think one of the reasons he could have incorporated the tragedy of society overpowering love is because in the real world that's how things are. Society is very biased against people of a lower class, not only in that time but also today. If you look around in school, there are more people who look down on someone with less money than there are people who accept them. It's a tragic flaw in society and eventually it will lead to the collapse of the societal structure we know today, Fitzgerald chose to incorporate the element of tragedy in order to show the audience that society isn't perfect and this is one of its flaws.

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

I agree. I feel that Fitzgerald placed a great emphasis on the importance of society and social standing by incorporating it into this story in the way that he did. Amory deals with many harships in his life due to his poverty, with the most difficult one being that he loses the love of his life. The story is tragic for Amory, and I agree that Fitzgerald presents this importance of social standing as a the main tragic flaw of society.

Hayley D 11/12 said...

I agree, it seems as though Fitzgerald did purposely incorporate tragedy into this story. Amory lived a hard life which adds to the tragedy in the novel. During that era, society based everything off of social standing, and it has gotten slightly better over the years. Today, people might choose to marry someone regardless of how much money they have but people tend to marry someone that they know is financially stable. Therefore, yes, I think that marriages based on money are common in today's society too.

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

I agree, I feel that this social standing concept will likely not change much in years to come, as it has not changed much in the past either. I think that marrying based on social class is not as important today as it used to be, but it still plays a role, as many people look down upon marrying into a lower social class.

russell F 11-12 said...

2. I do not think there really is a tragedy. He was a rich kid most of his life and got everything he wanted without doing anything. When he loses a fortune that he did not earn thats not a tragedy it just moves him to the same level as the rest of the world.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

Social standing is clearly very important. The fact that Amory tries to go back to Princeton in order to eventually win over Rosalind again proves this. It is also important to others in this time period because people want to make sure they are going to be secure in the future. One, in this time period, couldn't possibly marry someone whose future may not be so bright. I don't think that social standings matter as much today. I believe that people would much rather marry for love than money.

I think this could be considered a tragedy because it shows the true colors of the world and of people, although some people aren't as cold-hearted as Rosalind. Amory loses everything he has, and, even though that may not be considered the tragic part, he loses his love due to her selfish ways. I believe that is what makes this novel a tragedy.

Steve S 13-14 said...

I think that Fitzgerald did not incorporate tragedy into the story to make it tragic, rather, he did it for Amory to establish his true self.

MaryL11-12 said...

Social standing is really important during this time period. The 20s were a huge time for glitz and glam and if you couldn't afford it, you weren't worth anyone's time. Yes the same thing happens in today's society but not as severely as it did back then. People are still just as focused on money but today's poverty is different than that of the 20s.