This Side of Paradise | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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This Side of Paradise | Book 2, Chapter 3 : The Education of a Personage (Young Irony) | Summary

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Summary

Eleanor Savage appears to have a similar effect as Rosalind Connage on Amory Blaine, and is deemed "the last weird mystery that held him with wild fascination and pounded his soul to flakes." She and Amory meet on a stormy night while both were walking down the same country road, where she hears him reciting lines from a poem by Romantic writer Edgar Allan Poe, "Ulalume." They take refuge in a haystack, and Amory learns that Eleanor hates Maryland and belongs to the one of the oldest families in her county. Amory is smitten with her at once. Yet he also wonders if he is capable of love in the same way that he used to be.

On their last night together before Amory must return to New York, they stay out all night riding their horses through the country and quarrel about love. Eleanor tries to jump off a cliff with her horse. She narrowly survives, but the horse falls over the cliff and is killed. She tells Amory that her mother was crazy and fears that she is, too. She and Amory part ways but send poems to each other over the coming years.

Analysis

Amory Blaine's relationship with Eleanor Savage represents another evolution in his relationship with women and love at large. Eleanor is certainly Amory's type—she is elusive and mercurial and larger than life. Yet they also share a bond that was lacking in Amory's previous romances—a mutual love of poetry and literature. Poetry is romantic, powerful, and intoxicating, like love itself, and it is no coincidence that Eleanor first hears Amory reciting lines from Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Ulalume" and that he first hears her chanting lines from a French poet, Verlaine.

In many ways, Eleanor is also a mirror of Amory in the way she views the world and her place in it. At the end of their relationship, he is struck by the thought that as he "had loved himself in Eleanor, so now what he hated was only a mirror." This mirroring returns Amory to the ways in which he has historically been drawn to other people who reinforce the way he wants to see himself.

Yet something has shifted in Amory after his heartbreak with Rosalind Connage, and that shift seems to stop him short of being able to truly fall in love with Eleanor. From the beginning he is looking for reasons to reject her, and he finds one when she shows her willful independence and instability by almost riding her horse off a cliff. This independence echoes his relationship with Clara Page—in which she rejected him because she preferred to remain alone—but Amory is quick to spot it and head it off. This also marks a shift in which Amory seems to realize that love will not sustain him in life, as he will be left alone if he falls for someone intent on remaining alone.

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