This Side Of Paradise Essay Research Paper

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This Side Of Paradise Essay, Research Paper F. Scott Fitzgerald Introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise Book I Many critics have complained, with justice, that a great flaw in This Side of Paradise (aside from its loose, rambling structure) is the fact that the author seems uncertain as to his own attitude. He mocks the romantic delusions or emotional melodrama of his “little rich boy,” Amory Blaine, while too often he shares, or seems to share, in the delusions themselves. There is, in short, a kind of “smart” pseudo-sophistication imbedded within the narrative itself-a series of “clever comments” inserted for the sake of the cleverness rather than for any aesthetic purpose. And one result of this aesthetic self-indulgence is that the reader may

find it difficult to take either Amory or his adventures with any degree of seriousness at all. Indeed, one feels as though the author himself were doing what Amory does during the course of the narrative: he merely holds the posture of writing about what actually is a very slight matter. Gesture Without Substance The need for some sort of imposing or melodramatic gesture is, of course, one of the chief qualities of Amory Blaine as an adolescent. That neither Amory nor his creator-F. Scott Fitzgerald-ever grew out of this need, is a fact that readers of Fitzgerald’s works have recognized as central to the direction of his life and career. For Amory, at any rate, and for his mother Beatrice Blaine as well, the posture of reality all too often replaces reality itself, while

gesture stands as a substitute for emotional commitment. A woman of inherited wealth, Beatrice Blaine is a lovely, charming, superficial, childlike woman who maintains the posture of romance, a mere surface superimposed upon an essentially frigid or infantile refusal to commit herself to anything at all. She is, of course, the prototype for what has come to be known as the “Fitzgerald Woman” – an “enchanting” but essentially parasitic femme fatale whom Fitzgerald the author used so often for his books, and whom (in the person of Zelda) Fitzgerald the man finally married. The ‘Momma’s Boy’ Beatrice’s attitude toward the Church, for example, is typical of her attitude toward all emotional commitments. “She had once been a Catholic,” we are told, “but

discovering that the Priests were infinitely more attentive when she was in the process of either losing or regaining faith in the Mother Church, she maintained an enchantingly wavering attitude. . . . Next to doctors, priests were her favorite sport.” The effect, of course, is that of a woman for whom all action is a matter of calculated performance. Her very marriage to the weak and “ineffectual” (though rather literary and “romantic”) Stephen Blaine, Amory’s father, was a similar “sport”: having married the all but invisible Mr. Blaine, Beatrice is subsequently rather astonished at actually becoming pregnant, and makes of Amory himself a perpetual toy of whatever fashionable manner she currently approves. That Amory, indeed, falls into a posture of play-acting

whenever he is with Beatrice, is itself an indication of her “charm” – and her lack of substance. The first chapter of This Side of Paradise is a very important one because it includes many themes which Fitzgerald repeats and amplifies throughout the rest of the novel. Amory, for example, from the very beginning of the book-especially during his early adolescence in Minneapolis and his four years at St. Regis’ Academy in Connecticut-is precocious, “romantic,” and literally stuffed with gestures that come both from his own rather exotic reading, and from the rootless globe-trotting of his mother. The very title of the chapter (”Amory, Son of Beatrice”) is both a parody of Epic genealogy, and clear indication that Amory is a “momma’s boy” in a very profound