The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Start Free Trial

What moral does "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" convey about the nature of age?

Quick answer:

The moral of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" as it relates to the nature of age is that unique perspectives should be valued. Though the story does not follow the pattern of a morality tale, F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes Benjamin's reverse aging of his body, coupled with the normal aging of his mind, to teach this moral. He highlights this idea through the rejection of Benjamin's perspective by those closest to him, his father and his wife.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” F. Scott Fitzgerald argues that people should value the perspectives of those that are unique. In the case of this story, that is shown through the divide between Benjamin's physical age and his mental age. Fitzgerald illuminates this moral through the actions and perspectives of the characters around Benjamin, like Roger and Hildegarde.

When Benjamin is first born, his father, Roger Button, is dismayed and appalled by Benjamin’s appearance and relative age. When the nurses tell Mr. Button that he must get his son out of the hospital, he has a “grotesque picture … of himself walking through the crowded streets of the city with this appalling apparition stalking by his side.” In imagining the journey home, he sees them walking past the slave market and “for a dark instant Mr. Button wished passionately that his son was black.” Mr. Button’s rejection of his son based on his appearance is framed as the immoral perspective. With this reaction, Fitzgerald aligns any reader that rejects Benjamin based on his physical appearance with Roger Button, demonstrating his argument unique perspectives are often not valued.

Hildegarde, Benjamin’s wife, also does not appreciate Benjamin’s unique life. He tries to tell her that the aging in reverse is real and she does not believe him. She tells Benjamin,

You think you don’t want to be like any one else. You always have been that way, and you always will be. But just think how it would be if every one else looked at things as you do—what would the world do?

Hildegarde, like Roger, is closed to the idea that Benjamin’s unique perspective is something to be valued and celebrated.

While “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is not framed as a morality tale, Fitzgerald argues that the society around Benjamin suffers because they do not value Benjamin’s unique perspective. Instead of accepting his reverse aging for the opportunities it could provide, society rejects him time and time again. Fitzgerald frames this perspective as lacking virtue, so it can be interpreted as the moral of the story.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial