illustrated profiles of Amory and Beatrice Blaine

This Side of Paradise

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Characters

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Through Amory Blaine, Fitzgerald tried to understand his own past. In certain superficial ways Amory and Fitzgerald differ: Amory is taller; Fitzgerald did not spend six years traveling around the country—though his family did move frequently; Fitzgerald’s family never lost all their money; and Fitzgerald’s military service in World War I did not take him to France. Nevertheless, Amory’s experiences in preparatory school and college are Fitzgerald’s, and his quest to find himself and his calling are the novelist’s. When Fitzgerald was finishing This Side of Paradise in St. Paul, he, like Amory, had failed to take his degree at Princeton, had failed in the advertising business, and had apparently failed to win the hand of Zelda Sayre, the great love of his life. Still he could say of Amory, and so of himself, that “he was where Goethe was when he began Faust’; he was where Conrad was when he wrote Almayer’s Folly.’” As Fitzgerald’s subsequent career demonstrated, he was right to have Amory face the future optimistically, proclaiming in the last line, “I know myself.”

Just as Amory Blaine is a thinly veiled Fitzgerald, so, too, most of the other characters derive from the novelist’s acquaintances. Thayer Darcy, who as a wild youth was once in love with Beatrice O’Hara, is modeled on Sigourney Fay, the monsignor to whom Fitzgerald dedicated the novel. Just as Monsignor Darcy served as Amory’s spiritual and intellectual guide, so Sigourney Fay was Fitzgerald’s; it was Fay who told him of the girl who became Eleanor Savage in the novel, one of the few characters not based on Fitzgerald’s own experience.

Isabelle Borge is a thinly disguised Ginevra King, whom Fitzgerald, like Amory, met during the Christmas holiday in January, 1915. Their romance, carried on largely through lengthy letters, ended in 1917. The kind Clara is a romanticized portrait of Cecelia Taylor, a first cousin whom Fitzgerald admired. Unlike Clara, though, who is the same age as Amory, Cecelia was sixteen years older than the author; in 1917, when they met, she was a widow with four children rather than two. Rosalind is Ginevra King again, combined with Zelda Sayre, whom Fitzgerald met while stationed at Camp Sheridan, Alabama.

Amory’s Princeton friends are Fitzgerald’s, too. Thomas D’Invilliers is John Peale Bishop, an editor of the Nassau Lit. Like D’Invilliers, Bishop was a faithful and astute literary guide. Burne Holiday is Henry Slater, who, like Holiday, led the movement to abolish the elitist Princeton clubs. Holiday later becomes a pacifist, a stance that Amory initially rejects. Later, however, he tends toward the radical politics that Holiday had espoused.

Characters Discussed

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Amory Blaine

Amory Blaine, a boy born in the Midwest to a prominent family in the process of losing its fortune. He is a pampered, privileged young boy who embarks on a quest for self-discovery that covers his years at preparatory school, at Princeton University, in the Army, and beginning a life as an adult as he pursues a career in New York. He arrives in the East full of a kind of idealistic innocence, with untested assumptions about courage, honor, duty, and a man’s place in the world, but his natural charm, earnestness, amiability, and obvious intelligence enable him to progress toward a firmer understanding of his essential nature. He is almost six feet tall as he enters Princeton, with light hair and penetrating green eyes. He is strikingly but not conventionally handsome, with a kind of slender athleticism to his carriage. Often intoxicated with the splendor of his youth and...

(This entire section contains 922 words.)

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intensely conscious of his reactions to everything, he is fond of outrageous gestures and desperately concerned about his appearance and status in the eyes of those whom he admires and hopes to equal or emulate. He correctly sees himself as a “romantic egotist,” and his attitude toward the world—particularly toward women—has been shaped heavily by his reading, which has tended toward nineteenth century writers with rebellious and ultraromantic philosophies. His inclinations toward social equality and his sensitivity toward the people whom he likes rescue him from his tendencies to be a prototypical snob with a vastly inflated estimate of his own self-worth.

Beatrice O’Hara Blaine

Beatrice O’Hara Blaine, Amory’s mother, an extremely theatrical, self-dramatizing woman of exceptional beauty, almost constantly affected in manner, with no sense of monetary value and no real fundamental understanding of life. She lives as she wishes, with few responsibilities and a casually distant relationship to her husband. She is primarily responsible for rearing Amory through his childhood and for almost sealing him in the mold of a precious young prig fascinated with his own glory. She and Amory come to understand each other very well, but he is hardly affected by the news of her death during World War I.

Thayer Darcy

Thayer Darcy, a Catholic monsignor, forty-four years old when Amory meets him, robust, and somewhat stout. He creates an impressive figure in his religious regalia but is much more striking in terms of his warmth, wisdom, and abiding religious faith, which he has won through a test of conscience and experience. He is almost perfect as the surrogate father whom Amory needs: appreciative of Amory’s wit, guiding him toward sound moral and aesthetic precepts, and showing him gradually the range and depth of life that Amory has not seen yet. He is encouraging, patient, nonjudgmental, incisive, and philosophic, a constant pleasure to know. He gives Amory a sense of his Irish/Celtic heritage, supports his quest, and accepts his egotism. He is a model on which Amory can pattern himself. His death at the book’s end marks the true beginning of Amory’s adulthood.

Thomas Parke D’Invilliers

Thomas Parke D’Invilliers, one of Amory’s classmates at Princeton, who seems to be eccentrically out of touch with important social customs. He is stoop shouldered and has pale blue eyes. Amory eventually discovers that Thomas is genuinely literary and fundamentally traditional in outlook. He remains one of Amory’s best friends and is able to discuss literature with passion and without affectation. He is drawn from the poet John Peale Bishop.

Kerry Holiday

Kerry Holiday and

Burne Holiday

Burne Holiday, brothers attending Princeton, housemates of Amory during his freshman year. Kerry, good-natured, easygoing, and completely natural, volunteers for and dies in World War I. Burne seems to emerge during his junior year, when he reaches a position of socialism and pacificism and argues his reformist politics with passion, conviction, and an impressive, lucid logic.

Alec Connage

Alec Connage, another of Amory’s friends at Princeton, basically decent but essentially nondescript. He lacks the special essence of Amory’s closest friends.

Rosalind Connage

Rosalind Connage, Alec’s sister, the great love of Amory’s life, with “glorious yellow hair,” an “eternal kissable mouth, small, slightly sensual,” and “an unimpeachable skin with two spots of vanishing color.” She is physically stunning and mentally overwhelming. She is self-confident and self-possessed, and her offhand, casually witty personality tends to distract people from her perceptive view of the world. She has a gift for romantic banter (possibly based on that of Zelda Sayre), and she and Amory spend five weeks in an all-consuming relationship. Then, ruled by social expectations, she breaks off the affair and marries for money, comfort, and what she refers to as “background.” In spite of her appeal, she exhibits tendencies to be vain, lazy, and selfish, tendencies of which Amory is not aware, caught up as he is in blind ardor.

Isabelle Borgé

Isabelle Borgé, Amory’s first love, a girl from his hometown.

Clara Page

Clara Page, Amory’s distant cousin, with whom he falls in love briefly. A beautiful, self-composed, and mature woman, she is both regal in demeanor and democratic in attitude, too advanced for Amory.

Eleanor Savage

Eleanor Savage, an impetuous eighteen-year-old with whom Amory has a brief summer romance shortly after his break with Rosalind. She is a reckless romantic, with a “gorgeous clarity of mind” and a self-destructive streak that recalls some of Edgar Allan Poe’s more exotic heroines. Her incipient madness and her atheism attract and frighten Amory.

Characters / Techniques

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Amory Blaine is Fitzgerald's conception of what he would like to have been in his first two decades. He is full of idealistic innocence with naive ideas about courage, honor, and duty. He sees himself as a natural aristocrat who has an exalted if nebulous destiny surely to be realized. The Monsignor, based on a very admired older friend Sigourney Fay, represents wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. He is a guide to Catholic morality and social values. Rosalind Connage is a New York debutante, wealthy and desirable, a version of the modern American woman in rebellion against the strictures of family and social expectations. Eleanor Savage is a kind of "reckless romantic" whose self-destructive tendencies are both exciting and disturbing for Blaine, who is too conventional to really become involved with her. Rosalind is patterned after Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, and the young poet Thomas Parke D'Inviliers is based on his friend at Princeton John Peale Bishop. Fitzgerald worked with a method he called "transmuted autobiography," and the innovative aspects of the narrative, including plays and verse, are deviations from strict autobiographical chronology caused by Fitzgerald's inability to handle the two narrative voices, Blaine's and the novelist's.

Characters

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Mr. Barlow
Mr. Barlow is the president of the advertising company in whose office Amory rudely quits his job.

Mr. Barton
Mr. Barton, Amory’s family lawyer, advises Amory about his inherited and mainly unprofitable property in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Amory Blaine
The main character of the novel in the process of becoming a “personage,” Amory is chiefly characterized by his intense self-obsession and egotism. He changes markedly in the course of the plot, growing from a superficially clever and pretentious boy to a much more profound thinker, but his egotism remains his defining characteristic. His affairs with the four main young women of the novel, as well as his relationships with other adults and friends, are in many ways important to him only as they affect and influence his own development and desires.

Physically good-looking, but not conventionally so, and known for his “penetrating green eyes,” Amory is very successful with young women and consistently manages to intrigue them. By the time of his relationship with Eleanor, however, Amory is not sure if he is able to love again after Rosalind affected him so deeply. Much of his taste for enigmatic and unobtainable women goes back to his unconventional relationship with his charming, indulgent, but often absent mother.

Like his other relationships, the young women in Amory’s life represent the stages of his intellectual, artistic, and religious development, and they reflect that his own changing opinions and beliefs become more substantial as he reads more and explores himself more thoroughly. He retains something of an inability to persist in his endeavors, however, just as he remains an ambitious and romantic dreamer. Amory has become known as a Fitzgerald-type character, an elitist, ambitious, and daring youth of the Jazz Age based on the author himself.

Beatrice O’Hara Blaine
Amory’s mother, with her “brilliant education,” and the “exquisite delicacy of her features,” is a beautiful woman from the American upper class. She is more of a companion to Amory than a mother, which is reinforced by the fact that he calls her by her first name. Nevertheless, she is extremely important to his development, babies him throughout his youth, and carefully arranges his education. With her brilliant charm, she is also a model for the elusive and intriguing women with whom Amory continually falls in love. A heavy drinker and socialite continually in danger of another nervous breakdown, Beatrice dies while Amory is in the army, leaving half of her possessions to the Catholic Church.

Stephen Blaine
Amory’s father is an “ineffectual, inarticulate” man whom Amory does not know very well and who dies while Amory is at Princeton.

Isabelle Borgé
“Capable of very strong, if very transient, emotions,” Isabelle is Amory’s first love. He travels all the way to Minneapolis to see her at a “petting party,” during which they flirt and begin a relationship of passionate letter writing until they fall out when she comes to the Princeton prom. Isabelle is something of an actress, and she fits in well with the vanity of Amory’s pre-war Princeton period because she is quite vain herself. Nevertheless, she and Amory make an exciting pair during their relationship, and she enchants Amory as much as she infuriates him.

Phoebe Column
Phoebe is Fred Sloane’s friend, and it is in her New York apartment that Amory has a severe fright due to the man with the queer feet.

Alec Connage
A “quiet, rather aloof slicker,” Alec is Amory’s friend from Princeton and Rosalind’s brother. Amory’s love for Rosalind puts a strain on his and Alec’s relationship, as does the awkwardness after Amory takes the blame for Alec’s having illicitly brought a young woman back to their hotel room.

Cecelia Connage
Cecelia is a sarcastic and “good-humored” girl who acts as a foil, or a character whose function is to reveal something about another character, for her sister Rosalind.

Mrs. Connage
Rosalind’s mother Mrs. Connage keeps close tabs on her daughter and continually urges her to marry a rich gentleman.

Rosalind Connage
Amory’s most important and intense love in the novel, Rosalind is an extremely striking character. Her long description shortly into the first chapter of “Book Two,” beginning “Rosalind is— utterly Rosalind,” emphasizes that all men fall in love with her except those that are afraid of her, claims that she is not spoiled despite her selfishness, and states that “all criticism of Rosalind ends in her beauty.” She is spontaneous and intriguing, and her treatment of men in some ways represents a new type of liberated woman, since, she explains, she toys with men and leaves them as male lovers always used to do their female partners in the past.

Because of this pattern, Rosalind very frequently devastates men by leaving them, and there is much foreshadowing to her abandonment of Amory for the rich Dawson Ryder. Nevertheless, Rosalind seems entirely absorbed with Amory, as he is with her, during their brief and intense romance. She seems to agonize over her decision to leave Amory because he is too poor, although there is the suggestion that she does not suffer from it later as he does.

Thomas Park D’Invilliers
Tom is a Princeton friend with whom Amory begins a friendship because of their mutual interest in poetry. They remain friends and confidants after the war, and they live together in New York, where Tom has a job as a reviewer. When Tom grows tired of Princeton, he becomes more cynical, and while they are living in New York, Tom is frustrated by what he sees as a dishonest and incompetent literary community. Amory sees him as “a blighted Shelley, changing, shifting, clever, unscrupulous,” who represents “the critical consciousness of the race.”

Monsignor Thayer Darcy
Monsignor Darcy, an influential and successful priest in the Catholic hierarchy, is Amory’s confidant and father figure. He was Beatrice’s passionate lover in his youthful romantic days, but when she abandoned him for the rich Stephen Blaine, Monsignor began his career in the priesthood. Because of his charm and ability to be adored by everyone, Father Darcy earns the title “Monsignor,” which is a general term of influence in the Catholic Church, and tells Amory before his sudden death towards the end of the novel that he will soon become a cardinal. Monsignor exerts a great influence over Amory, and they are very close because of their many similarities, including their elitism and their taste in philosophy and literature.

Jesse Ferrenby
Part of Amory’s Princeton group, Jesse eventually gets a place at the “Princetonian,” the college’s daily newspaper. He dies in World War I.

Mr. Ferrenby
Known as “the big man with goggles” until his identity as Jesse’s father is revealed, Mr. Ferrenby is the impressive capitalist who gives Amory a ride in his car and argues with him about socialism.

Howard Gillespie
Howard is the unhappy young man of whom Rosalind has recently become tired when she meets Amory.

Thornton Hancock
The Honorable Thornton Hancock is a historian, advisor to famous politicians, and rich intellectual from an aristocratic Bostonian family. Amory meets him because of his friendship with Monsignor Darcy and afterwards considers that he is an example of an admirable atheist.

Burne Holiday
Burne is the chairman of the “Princetonian” and a social success at Princeton until he begins to radically challenge the social hierarchy. Although Burne is busy trying out for the “Princetonian” during their first year and Amory does not get to know him until later, Amory grows to admire his enthusiasm, stubbornness, and “earnestness.” Flirting with ideas of socialism and pacifism, some of Burne’s ideas are muddled, but he thinks seriously about intellectual issues in a way that inspires Amory’s own development. Burne comes out as a pacifist during World War I and leaves Princeton, disappearing from the novel, although Amory speculates that he could have ended up in jail.

Kerry Holiday
Amory’s first friend at Princeton and Burne’s dark-haired older brother, Kerry is “the mentor of the house” and an elitist such as Amory. He becomes close with Amory by planning their social rise at Princeton, and they remain friends until Kerry leaves college to enroll in the war, in which he dies. Kerry’s easygoing and charming personality makes him, with Alec Connage, the “life” of their Princeton social group, and Amory likes nearly everything about him, including his snobbishness.

Dick Humbird
Dick is Amory’s “quiet” friend from Princeton, who admires him as the “perfect type of aristocrat.” Amory is deeply shocked by Dick’s death in a car accident, and his face comes back to haunt Amory while he is running from the man with the queer feet.

Mrs. Lawrence
“A type of Rome-haunting American” who is intelligent and dignified, Mrs. Lawrence is a friend and devotee of Monsignor Darcy.

The Little Man
“The little man” who offers Amory a ride is the assistant to Mr. Ferrenby. Amory insults him and uses him as an example of ignorance in his argument about socialism.

The Man with the Queer Feet
While at a club in New York, Amory has a strange and “inexpressibly terrible” experience with a middle-aged man in a brown suit who may represent the devil. Amory has a vision of the man in Phoebe’s flat that frightens him and seems to chase him through the streets, and he remembers long afterwards the “wrongness” of the man’s strange pointed shoes that curl up at the end.

Mr. Margotson
The senior master at St. Regis preparatory school, Mr. Margotson attempts to advise Amory about why the other boys dislike him, but Amory walks out of his office in a fury.

Axia Marlowe
Phoebe Column’s friend, Axia chats and flirts with Amory until he runs away, frightened of the man with the queer feet, from Phoebe’s apartment in New York.

Clara Page
Clara is Amory’s third cousin, with whom he falls in love. She is a poor widow with two children and has led a “hurried life,” but she is nevertheless charming and delightful, and everyone treats her with respect. Because of the vast “goodness” that he sees in her, and her ability to bring out a different side of his narcissistic personality, Amory proposes marriage to her. Clara brushes this off, however, and they lose touch with each other at the beginning of the war.

Frog Parker
“Froggy” is Amory’s closest friend during his years of private school in Minneapolis.

Rahill
The “president of the sixth form” at St. Regis, Rahill becomes a friend and “co-philosopher” of Amory’s during his second year.

Eleanor Ramilly
Eleanor is Amory’s final love in the course of the novel, and she is associated with wildness and nature. From a very old Maryland family, Eleanor was brought up in France and is an extremely intelligent and well-read person who is intellectually challenging to Amory. She describes herself as a “romantic little materialist,” and has an inclination towards paganism in thought and literature. Although her appearance is unclear at first, she is eighteen years old and beautiful, with pale skin and green eyes. She and Amory later write poems to each other, but their relationship ends when Amory leaves Maryland.

Dawson Ryder
The rich young man that eventually marries Rosalind, Dawson is a reliable choice, and Amory has to agree that he is “a good man and a strong one.” Rosalind is never in love with him, however.

Fred Sloane
Sloane is part of Amory’s group of Princeton friends. He has a “happy personality,” likes to drink alcohol, and is the pitcher for the baseball team.

Myra St. Claire
Myra, a girl Amory meets while he is living with his aunt and uncle in Minneapolis, give Amory his chance for his first kiss. Myra is slightly spoiled and becomes upset when Amory refuses to kiss her more than once while they are alone at her “bobbing party.”

Phyllis Styles
Phyllis Styles is the socialite that Burne Holiday embarrasses very awkwardly at a Harvard- Princeton football game.

Jill Wayne
Jill, in whom Amory sees the evil of “pride and sensuality,” is the young woman who Alec illicitly brings back to a hotel in Atlantic City.

Sally Weatherby
Sally is Amory’s acquaintance from private school in Minneapolis, and she sets him up with Isabelle.

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