Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 310

“Crazy Sunday” is a story about the interrelationship of illusions and reality (or make-believe and actuality), of the difficulty people have separating them, and of the confusion of identity that results. Because the story’s characters work in a profession that creates and markets illusions, the problem of personal identity is...

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“Crazy Sunday” is a story about the interrelationship of illusions and reality (or make-believe and actuality), of the difficulty people have separating them, and of the confusion of identity that results. Because the story’s characters work in a profession that creates and markets illusions, the problem of personal identity is heightened and the thin line between acting and being is blurred. On Sundays, when they are not making films, they are thrown into the challenge of coping with the world of actuality. Because it is psychologically frustrating for them to contend with real problems of fidelity, jealousy, illness, and death, they tend to extend their work week and to find faith in the profession itself, to live in the office of creation. Their weekend lives are staged at parties in theater-like mansions. However, they are vulnerable: Miles is marked for death, Joel has a problem with alcohol, and Stella verges on hysteria with her insecurity.

Miles tries to turn his artistic creation, Stella Walker, into his real-life wife, but he cannot cope with that step in her transformation. Stella, with Miles’s death and the loss of her creator-director, believes she cannot manage and pleads for Joel’s support. Joel does not accept the real plea for help from Stella, for he still sees her as the little gamin whom Miles turned into a star.

Another theme in “Crazy Sunday” is the coexistence of the characters’ glamour and emotional instability—Miles’s psychological confusion and weariness of mind and body, Stella’s insecurity amounting to complete dependence, Joel’s drinking and naïveté. This dark side is also evidenced in the coarse makeup of the film extras and the rummies who write the film scripts. The fact is that these are necessary accompaniments to the dream world they produce for the public and in which they themselves are caught.

Themes

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 658

Insecurity
All three of the main characters exhibit insecurity that prompts them to reach out for external approval and reassurance. Fitzgerald shows how insecurity strikes anyone, regardless of background, career success, or personal egoism. More specifically, he seems to be revealing that insecurity is prevalent in Hollywood.

Joel possesses the antithetical combination of insecurity and arrogance that is common in youth. On the one hand, he perceives himself as a talented writer (‘‘He referred to himself modestly as a hack but really did not think of it that way’’) who is ready to move among the elite in his industry. He even considers himself somewhat superior professionally because he can refuse alcohol (so he claims), unlike many of his peers. At the same time, he desperately seeks approval from others. He seeks the approval of Miles, Stella, and the partygoers, always switching his focus according to whom he thinks he can best impress. When Stella starts paying attention to him, he finds her irresistible, despite the fact that she is married to a powerful director and personal acquaintance of his. Even when he realizes that she is using him, he does not cut her out of his life right away. He is simultaneously disappointed and relieved when she suggests that her chauffeur drive him home. His conflicted feelings stem from his insecurity, his need to feel desirable, and his vague awareness of ethics.

Stella’s insecurity is evident in her pursuit of Joel, which accelerates when she discovers Miles’s affair. Initially, she enjoys the way Joel admired her and how he reminds her of her past. She knew him during a time of less social pressure, scrutiny, and judgment. His comment that she looks sixteen makes her feel youthful and carefree. When she learns that Miles has been unfaithful, Stella turns to Joel as a confidante and an admirer. She knows he is captivated by her, and in the wake of the rejection and self-doubt brought on by the affair, she needs another man to make her feel desirable. Ironically, this is exactly what Joel predicted in their first conversation.

Despite his professional success and large circle of friends, Miles is deeply insecure. He is repeating the pattern of his first marriage, in which he took a mistress to make him feel sexy. He is seeing a therapist to work out his personal problems, but there is little evidence of progress. In his career, Miles is confident and unconcerned about making everyone happy, but in his personal life he craves reassurance and validation.

Appearance
In the competitive culture of the Hollywood film industry, appearance is critical. Fitzgerald touches on this in ‘‘Crazy Sunday’’ through Joel. Anticipating his evening at Miles’s party, Joel resolves to stay away from alcohol because he knows Miles judges writers who drink too much. Joel wants to make a good impression and show that he fits in with Miles and his friends. In reality, Joel knows he drinks too much, but he wants his appearance to conform to Miles’s standards. The narrator explains, ‘‘Calman was audibly tired of rummies, and thought it was a pity the industry could not get along without them.’’ Knowing this, Joel hopes that Miles will be in earshot when he turns down an offer of cocktails. At the party, however, Joel has some drinks and realizes too late that he is humiliating himself before his peers. He fears that the damage to his image may be irreparable, which could mean the end of his career. In his embarrassment, he struggles to maintain the appearance that he is still selfassured, and the narrator remarks that ‘‘he clung desperately to his rule of never betraying an inferior emotion until he no longer felt it.’’ Later, Joel, selfconscious in his silk hat, reveals his awareness of appearance when he waits for Stella and Miles at the theater. He is beginning to understand that appearances in Hollywood often mask reality.

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