The Characters (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Through Amory Blaine, Fitzgerald tried to understand his own past. In certain superficial ways Amory and Fitzgerald differ: Amory is taller; Fitzgerald did not spend six years traveling around the country—though his family did move frequently; Fitzgerald’s family never lost all their money; and Fitzgerald’s military service in World War I did not take him to France. Nevertheless, Amory’s experiences in preparatory school and college are Fitzgerald’s, and his quest to find himself and his calling are the novelist’s. When Fitzgerald was finishing This Side of Paradise in St. Paul, he, like Amory, had failed to take his degree at Princeton, had failed in the advertising business, and had apparently failed to win the hand of Zelda Sayre, the great love of his life. Still he could say of Amory, and so of himself, that “he was where Goethe was when he began Faust’; he was where Conrad was when he wrote Almayer’s Folly.’” As Fitzgerald’s subsequent career demonstrated, he was right to have Amory face the future optimistically, proclaiming in the last line, “I know myself.”
Just as Amory Blaine is a thinly veiled Fitzgerald, so, too, most of the other characters derive from the novelist’s acquaintances. Thayer Darcy, who as a wild youth was once in love with Beatrice O’Hara, is modeled on Sigourney Fay, the monsignor to whom Fitzgerald dedicated the novel. Just as Monsignor Darcy served as Amory’s spiritual and...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
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Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Amory Blaine, a boy born in the Midwest to a prominent family in the process of losing its fortune. He is a pampered, privileged young boy who embarks on a quest for self-discovery that covers his years at preparatory school, at Princeton University, in the Army, and beginning a life as an adult as he pursues a career in New York. He arrives in the East full of a kind of idealistic innocence, with untested assumptions about courage, honor, duty, and a man’s place in the world, but his natural charm, earnestness, amiability, and obvious intelligence enable him to progress toward a firmer understanding of his essential nature. He is almost six feet tall as he enters Princeton, with light hair and penetrating green eyes. He is strikingly but not conventionally handsome, with a kind of slender athleticism to his carriage. Often intoxicated with the splendor of his youth and intensely conscious of his reactions to everything, he is fond of outrageous gestures and desperately concerned about his appearance and status in the eyes of those whom he admires and hopes to equal or emulate. He correctly sees himself as a “romantic egotist,” and his attitude toward the world—particularly toward women—has been shaped heavily by his reading, which has tended toward nineteenth century writers with rebellious and ultraromantic philosophies. His inclinations toward social equality and his sensitivity toward the people whom he likes rescue him...
(The entire section is 922 words.)
Characters / Techniques
Amory Blaine is Fitzgerald's conception of what he would like to have been in his first two decades. He is full of idealistic innocence with naive ideas about courage, honor, and duty. He sees himself as a natural aristocrat who has an exalted if nebulous destiny surely to be realized. The Monsignor, based on a very admired older friend Sigourney Fay, represents wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. He is a guide to Catholic morality and social values. Rosalind Connage is a New York debutante, wealthy and desirable, a version of the modern American woman in rebellion against the strictures of family and social expectations. Eleanor Savage is a kind of "reckless romantic" whose self-destructive tendencies are both exciting and disturbing for Blaine, who is too conventional to really become involved with her. Rosalind is patterned after Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, and the young poet Thomas Parke D'Inviliers is based on his friend at Princeton John Peale Bishop. Fitzgerald worked with a method he called "transmuted autobiography," and the innovative aspects of the narrative, including plays and verse, are deviations from strict autobiographical chronology caused by Fitzgerald's inability to handle the two narrative voices, Blaine's and the novelist's.
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Mr. Barlow is the president of the advertising company in whose office Amory rudely quits his job.
Mr. Barton, Amory’s family lawyer, advises Amory about his inherited and mainly unprofitable property in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
The main character of the novel in the process of becoming a “personage,” Amory is chiefly characterized by his intense self-obsession and egotism. He changes markedly in the course of the plot, growing from a superficially clever and pretentious boy to a much more profound thinker, but his egotism remains his defining characteristic. His affairs with the four main young women of the novel, as well as his relationships with other adults and friends, are in many ways important to him only as they affect and influence his own development and desires.
Physically good-looking, but not conventionally so, and known for his “penetrating green eyes,” Amory is very successful with young women and consistently manages to intrigue them. By the time of his relationship with Eleanor, however, Amory is not sure if he is able to love again after Rosalind affected him so deeply. Much of his taste for enigmatic and unobtainable women goes back to his unconventional relationship with his charming, indulgent, but often absent mother.
Like his other relationships, the young women in Amory’s life represent the stages of his...
(The entire section is 2071 words.)