illustrated profiles of Amory and Beatrice Blaine

This Side of Paradise

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Book 2, Chapter 4 Summary

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Upon his return to New York, Amory goes to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to stroll along the boardwalk. He is hailed from someone in a racing car—it is Alec Connage. Alec is with another man and two young women. Amory is invited to go along to find a place to drink (despite Prohibition). He climbs in beside Jill, who calls him Doug Fairbanks (the swashbuckling movie actor). Alec and Amory start to reminisce about their classmates who were killed, but Alec decides he does not want to talk about them.

Alec asks Amory to do him a favor. He and the others have booked hotel rooms, but the other man has to leave. Alec asks if Amory would take his room. Amory agrees as long as he can have it immediately. Amory goes to the hotel room, where he becomes absorbed once again in self-pity over his loss of Rosalind. He goes to bed but is awakened by Alec. Alec and Jill have been caught sleeping in the same room; this is against the Mann Act, which prohibits the crossing of state lines for immoral persons (in this case, sex between unmarried persons). Alec does not know what to do, and Jill is crying hysterically in the bathroom. The house detectives are pounding on the door, demanding to be let in.

Amory contemplates sacrificing himself and saying that it was he who was with Jill. He remembers an incident in college when a student was caught cheating and his roommate took the blame, eventually committing suicide because this sacrifice ruined his future. Knowing that Alec has a family to think of and he does not, Amory decides to sacrifice himself anyway. He opens door and lets the detectives in. They question him and Jill. The detectives will not prosecute them, but a notice will be put in the paper with their names, addresses, and the fact that they were “in trouble” in Atlantic City. Amory agrees, and he and Jill are escorted off the premises.

Two days later, Amory sees the notice in the newspaper. Above it is the announcement of Rosalind and Dawson’s engagement. Amory realizes that Rosalind is as good as dead to him. The next day he receives a letter from his attorney telling him that the stocks in the streetcar companies is worthless and Amory will be receiving no more money from that investment. Later he also receives a telegram informing him that Monsignor Darcy passed away five days previously.

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