Ideas for Group Discussions
Since the short fiction of Fitzgerald is relatively little known these days, it might be effective to deal with the relative qualities — of, for example, plot, characterization, and style — of these works in comparison with those of the novels. One might, for instance, examine the question of whether the somewhat disconnected story line of "Mayday" compares favorably with the advance of events in, say, The Beautiful and Damned. Further, inasmuch as many critics and authors believe that the short story is a more demanding form, in its requirement of absolute compression, it could be well to discuss whether Fitzgerald, in these stories, actually achieves the condensation needed to create a satisfying piece of short fiction.
As to setting, an important element in all of the stories, one might question whether the European setting of "Babylon Revisited" is as well realized as the American settings in the other tales. As always, the style of Fitzgerald merits attention, especially in the passages of dialogue that enliven the stories and help to develop the profound themes therein.
1. In which of these four stories does the setting seem to play the most important part?
2. Aside from the geographical clash, what is the principal basis of conflict in "The Ice Palace"?
3. Does the tone of "Mayday" achieve its evident goal of re-creating the ambience of New York in the spring of 1919? What devices are especially useful...
(The entire section is 351 words.)
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Although Fitzgerald often derogated his short fiction, claiming that these works were accomplished only in order to give him money so that he could work on his long fiction, many readers find the tales, at least the better ones, of great worth. Fitzgerald did state that he put a great deal of his "essence" into these pieces. They frequently do offer an immediacy and focus not found in the longer works. Also, the sense of place can sometimes be found in a short story more sharply than in the novels. Surely, most of the stories express the main themes of Fitzgerald's other fiction in a compact form; these include the importance and glamour of youth, the significance of social standing, a sense of the "historical moment," the necessity of moral standards, an emphasis on both the power of circumstance and the exercise of free will, as well as the aforementioned sense of setting.
(The entire section is 153 words.)