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).
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?