illustrated profiles of Amory and Beatrice Blaine

This Side of Paradise

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Book 2, Chapter 2 Summary

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For three weeks following his breakup with Rosalind, Amory descends into a drunken debauchery. He drifts from bar to bar and avoids sobriety. He meets several of his old classmates but refuses to talk of the end of his engagement. He stays in rooms at the different bars and does not go back to the apartment. He considers suicide but not seriously enough to stop drinking and do it. A woman begs him to take her home, but the man she came with interferes; the conversation almost ends in a fight.

After three weeks, Amory goes to the advertising agency at which he works. He confronts his employer and quits. He hated the work and did not feel that he was paid enough or would he ever make any headway in business there. Four days later he returns to the apartment, where Tom is writing book reviews for his weekly magazine. Amory is a physical wreck, suffering cuts and bruises from his many encounters with people during his drunken spree. Tom breaks the news to him that Alec has left and returned home at the request of his family. Amory is pained at the remembrance of the Connages. The rent is going up at the apartment, so Tom says they will have to find someone else to replace Alec.

Amory packs up remembrances of Rosalind in a cardboard box and hides it in the bottom of his trunk. He then goes out once again to a bar to get drunk. Soon Prohibition begins, cutting off his supply of alcohol, so he must face sobriety. He comes to face the end of his love affair, what he feels is the one true love he will ever have. He is confronted by the fact that at the end, there was nothing but dramatic tragedy followed by three weeks of drunkenness. He decides life, but not love, must go on.

Amory writes a short story about his father’s funeral. He sells it to a magazine for sixty dollars and receives a request for more of his writing along the same cynical line. He is flattered, but he writes no more. Instead, he reads as much modern literature as he can. He comes to see the works of the previous generation as totally worthless in this new world after the war. He remembers Mrs. Lawrence, a friend of Monsignor Darcy’s. He calls her up to learn that Monsignor has gone to Boston. Mrs. Lawrence reminds Amory of his mother, and he enjoys her conversation. 
Amory learns that his family home in Lake Geneva is difficult to rent because of its size. He decides not to sell it yet, however. In the meantime, both he and Tom become cynical of the views of the new youth. Amory decides not to write until he can get some clarity to his own views; he fears that he might set off some reactionary with his words. He receives a letter from Monsignor, who is worried about Amory’s state of mind. He is not available to see Amory at present, so Amory decides to go to Maryland to visit an uncle. He stays longer than he expected because he meets Eleanor.

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