How did the failures of F. Scott’s father affect his life and attitudes?
Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, F. Scott Fitzgerald was the son of Edward and Mollie. Fitzgerald's father, Edward, was from Maryland, and his mother came from a wealthy family in Saint Paul. Edward created a manufacturing company that made wicker furniture, but when it failed he took a job as a salesman for Proctor & Gamble in upstate New York. He was fired from the company and his family moved back to St. Paul, where Edward took an office job that was unfulfilling, but they lived comfortably on Mollie's family fortune (made from a wholesale grocery business). Biographical accounts say that Edward also drank rather heavily at times, and of course this was a problem for his son Francis Scott, who, it has been said, died young due to alcoholism.
F. Scott Fitzgerald attended St. Paul's Academy, a respected preparatory school, and then attended Princeton, graduating in 1917. He then joined the army, and believed he'd die in the war. But upon returning home, he began his writing career in earnest, begging work on his first novel, and by late 1919 had earned a solid reputation writing short stories for The Saturday Evening Post.
Fitzgerald's father's failure in business and the family reliance upon his mother's fortune conjure up themes one sees repeatedly in Fitzgerald's work: financial dissolution, the match of a poor man with a wealthy woman (seen most prominently in The Great Gatsby), and the general anxiety around financial success. Of course, the stock market crash of 1929 was also a factor; but Fitzgerald's depiction of the Roaring Twenties was colored by an upbringing where he knew himself to be a child of privilege. However, the presence of wealth in his own life was problematic: Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda spent money as quickly as he earned it, despite his being one of the highest paid writers in history. Alcoholism is also a common theme in Fitzgerald's work, a problem that plagued his father as well. It has been said that some of Fitzgerald's characters who had drinking problems were in oat base don his own struggle, such as The Beautiful and Damned and "Babylon Revisited."