The Beautiful and Damned | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Beautiful and Damned | Symbols


Color Gray

The color gray, while used by Fitzgerald in its common sense to convey dull environments and depressed moods, is also disquietingly (and almost subliminally) assigned to trappings of luxury. The most noticeable example of this is the gray house in Marietta in which Anthony and Gloria spend their summers. This house serves as the scene for more than one unhappy event, including the one that results in Adam J. Patch's disinheritance of his grandson, Anthony. Well-dressed men wear gray spats, gray gloves, and gray hats. When Gloria realizes she and Anthony are broke, the only thing she longs for is a gray squirrel coat.

Anthony's Stamp Collection

Anthony's stamp collection appears only twice in The Beautiful and Damned, but for some readers, it might be one of the very few things in the novel that elicit any empathy for the character. The stamps are mentioned almost in passing in the novel's first section when Fitzgerald presents them as a diversion for the young Anthony after the loss of his parents. The collection appears again after an adult Anthony has a mental breakdown. It is significant both that he kept the collection for nearly 30 years and that he turns to it for solace when his life is at its darkest and most frightening.

He loves the stamps for their beauty (their "splendor"), their expense, and the joy he derives from collecting them. He learns nothing from them, and they create a distance between him and Gloria (like so many other things). Ultimately, they become the place he goes when he has nowhere else to go, and they are every bit as meaningless as his victory against his grandfather.

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