Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Monroe Stahr, a brilliant, young film producer, as much interested in the artistic value of motion pictures as in making money. Having lost his wife whom he had loved deeply, he now courts death through overwork. He is extremely interested in the welfare of his employees, although he is not always appreciated by them. His short but passionate affair with Kathleen seems to be at the center of this unfinished novel.
Kathleen Moore, Stahr’s mistress, who reminds him of his dead wife. She later marries another man out of a sense of obligation but continues her affair with Stahr.
Pat Brady, Stahr’s partner. Interested only in making money, Brady is a cold and calculating man. He often opposes Stahr’s policies although he understands almost nothing of the technical end of the industry.
Cecilia Brady, Pat’s daughter, the narrator of the story. She falls in love with Stahr, but he pays no attention to her. After an affair with another man, she suffers a complete breakdown; she relates the story from a tuberculosis sanatorium.
Wylie Whyte, a screenwriter who tries to marry Cecilia and thus gain her father’s influence.
Pete Zavras, a cameraman whom Stahr helps to find work. He later helps Stahr when Kathleen’s husband...
(The entire section is 238 words.)
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Characters / Techniques
The Last Tycoon was designed as a compact work, like The Great Gatsby (1925), with a narrator to ratify the experiences of a romantic figure. Following his usual pattern, Fitzgerald based Stahr's dead wife on Zelda, Kathleen Moore (Stahr's last love) on Sheilah Graham, and Brady, Stahr's partner, on Louis B. Mayer, whose daughter Cecilia provides the narrative focus. As Fitzgerald explained, "I hoped to get the verisimilitude of a first person narrative, combined with Godlike knowledge of all events that happened to my characters." As a Hollywood insider, Cecilia can see the industry with a clear eye.
Stahr is the final version of a line of Fitzgerald heroes who are gifted poor boys of solid character and artistic temperament. Although Stahr is successful, Fitzgerald envisioned him as the last of a breed, a self-reliant man who demanded allegiance and exercised authority with skill and force. He is besieged by powerful forces in society, notably big business and organized labor. He is an isolated figure dedicated to his beliefs so completely that he is working himself to death, but he is heroic in his fidelity to his principles. His vision is expressed through images of flight, giving him a Daedalian aura. The fact that Stahr is dying of heart disease reinforces his connection to his creator, who was suffering all the shattering effects of alcoholism — a man who might accurately have been described at the end of his life as sick at heart...
(The entire section is 296 words.)