After reading “The Four Fists” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, try to determine the author’s position.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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One of the positions the narrator puts forth is that people can benefit from facing the consequences of their actions. If Samuel Meredith had never been punched in the face for any of the four of his transgressions, he would not have reconsidered his behavior and therefore he would not have learned that he behaved selfishly or indifferently. As unpleasant it is to be punched in the face, the narrator indicates that this is something Samuel Meredith was thankful for: 

If you could run your hand along Samuel Meredith's jaw you'd feel a  lump. He admits he's never been sure which fist left it there, but he wouldn't lose it for anything. 

The first punch taught Samuel to be considerate rather than rude. The second punch taught him to consider the feelings and circumstances of others (the laborer). He also learned that it is arrogant and presumptuous to force his idea of a social code upon others. This is particularly applicable in that one's social code is not necessarily always correct. And in this case, Samuel was wrong. He wanted to impress the girls by appearing to be the chivalrous hero, but the laborer needed the seat much more than the girl did. 

The third punch taught him again to consider the feelings and circumstances of others and to consider the big picture. Samuel selfishly considered himself Marjorie's hero, rescuing her from a husband who apparently neglected her. But after the third punch, he contemplated the opposite scenario; that he was the villain and Marjorie's husband was the hero: 

The situation had miraculously and entirely changed—a moment before Samuel had seemed to himself heroic; now he seemed the cad, the outsider, and Marjorie's husband, silhouetted against the lights of the little house, the eternal heroic figure, the defender of his home. 

The final punch teaches him that there are more important things than money. You could say the "four fists" are the "four lessons" in Samuel's life. These lessons made him a better person. Subsequently, when faced with an important decision, Samuel rubs that lump on his jaw to remind himself what he's learned from those punches. 


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