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...
(The entire section is 448 words.)