Benjamin Button sits in the hospital nursery in a crib, newly born an old man. He exists as an anomaly yet that fact receives little attention. Only Benjamin seems curious about his curious case. Everyone who knows his history expects him to act and be his chronological age. Everyone who does not know his history expects him to act and be his physical age. No one in the story wrestles with the bizarre or unbelievable nature of his predicament. After some research, Benjamin concludes he is alone in his abnormal condition. The lack of attention directed toward Benjamin's abnormality highlights the social expectations the characters have that prevent each one from knowing Benjamin. Throughout the story, the characters deny the real Benjamin Button in favor of their societal expectations of Benjamin Button.
Facts carry weight. Those who know Benjamin’s chronological age cannot seem to see beyond that fact. Benjamin’s family cannot accept his youthing. Again and again, his father, his wife, and his son express their dissatisfaction with his continual youthing and then insist that he stop. Because they know how old Benjamin is, they continue to insist that he behave as the sociocultural expectation would have that age group behave. In kindergarten, he is judged by his ability to conform to his chronological age. Even though he reveals advanced skills, because he does not behave as kindergartners do, he is taken out of school.
Just as those who know his history cannot accept that he does not look or act his chronological age, the world cannot accept that his age does not match up with his physical appearance of age. Plato reminds us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and idioms encourage us not to judge a book by its cover, but this short story reveals another human tendency: we are easily swayed by how people look. Our inability to see beyond appearances limits our ability to know one another. We all know that individuals...
(The entire section is 597 words.)