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This Side of Paradise | Discussion Questions 31 - 40


In This Side of Paradise, what does Amory Blaine's assessment of his personality reveal about how he sees himself in Book 2, Chapter 5?

Book 2, Chapter 5 finds Amory Blaine at one of his lowest points emotionally. He admits to being "afraid of people and prejudice and misery and monotony." His life is in shambles. He is without money and without love. Yet Amory also seems more self-aware than ever before. The narrator notes that "probably more than any concrete vice or failing Amory despised his own personality." He is deeply aware of his flaws as they have been revealed through his reactions to heartbreak and poverty, and he can see how prone he is to his own egotism. Amory recognizes that he has been cruel to people who have loved him and, as a result, he sees that many people don't trust him. F. Scott Fitzgerald here offers the most honest portrayal of Amory's own self-assessment thus far, and even though it reveals some of his deepest flaws, it also shows that he is sympathetic and vulnerable, more human than ever before.

In Book 2, Chapter 5 of This Side of Paradise, what is meant by Amory Blaine's statement, "there were no more wise men; there were no more heroes"?

This thought strikes Amory Blaine as he is remembering Burne Holiday and Monsignor Darcy, two men who had a great deal of influence on him. His statement reveals Amory's current state of disillusionment and loneliness, as he has lost many of the people in his life that he looked up to and could count on. He also realizes that "he had listened eagerly to people who pretended to know, who knew nothing." In many ways, Amory has lost his faith not only in himself but also others as well. He is struck by a sense of impermanence after the war and also by the loss of Rosalind Connage. His mother and father are dead and his family's wealth is gone. His current mental state is one of hopelessness, with no one to turn to for guidance.

What is the significance of Amory Blaine's epiphany at Monsignor Darcy's funeral in Book 2, Chapter 5 of This Side of Paradise?

Attending Monsignor Darcy's funeral in Book 2, Chapter 5 causes Amory Blaine to realize that the feeling he is searching is "not to be admired, as he had feared; not to be loved, as he had made himself believe; but to be necessary to people, to be indispensable." This realization dawns on him as he watches the many people who attend Monsignor Darcy's funeral and realizes how indispensable he was to so many people. He is also reminded of Burne Holiday, who he also felt provided him with a "sense of security." Now, Amory "[feels] an immense desire to give people a sense of security." This revelation is huge for Amory because it signifies a turning point in wanting to become the very thing he craves from others, a major shift away from his former egotism.

In Book 2, Chapter 5 of This Side of Paradise, what implication does Amory Blaine make about "modern life" to the men who give him a ride?

Amory Blaine claims to the men in the car that "modern life changes no longer century by century, but year by year, ten times faster than it ever has before." This seems to be an epiphany that Amory has had after his experience at war, during which he began to consider himself as part of a generation and part of a larger world than he had previously considered. The implications that Amory makes with his statement lead him to espouse his socialist beliefs about equality and the need for humanity to evolve faster politically, because they only seem to be "dawdling" along. This leads to a debate between Amory and the men, which allows Amory to clarify what his view of the world is to them and to himself.

In This Side of Paradise, what distinctions does Amory Blaine make between his generation and the next at Princeton in Book 2, Chapter 5?

As Amory Blaine roams through the grounds of Princeton in the final pages of the novel, he comes to consider what distinguishes his generation from the new generation (only a few years younger) that he finds there. He believes that this newer generation is "dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and worship of success," but he muses that they will grow up to "find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken." They will encounter a different world than the one he and his peers grew up in, one that is more disillusioned. This connects back to Amory's claim to the men who pick him up in the car that the world is moving faster than ever, and humans need to speed up in order to catch up to its changing nature.

In Book 2, Chapter 5 of This Side of Paradise, what does Amory Blaine mean by "I know myself, but that is all"?

Amory Blaine's statement is the last line of the novel and is the culmination of his story, which focuses on the theme of self-discovery. Amory spends his life adopting different attitudes and postures, conjuring up a personal philosophy of "aristocratic egotism" and seeking people who will act as mirrors in which he can admire himself. He looks to men like Burne Holiday and Monsignor Darcy as guideposts for how to be the ideal man, but in the end, he realizes that as much as he also tries to understand the world's influence on him, all he knows is himself. F. Scott Fitzgerald leaves this as a cryptic line for the reader to interpret because it is unaccompanied by Amory's thoughts or reflections on the subject. It's vague as to whether his final comment is hopeful or hopeless, but it does serve as an epiphany, or sudden realization, for Amory after a period of uncertainty and aimlessness. His quest has led him to try to reject egotism in favor of self-knowledge.

In what ways can Rosalind Connage and Eleanor Savage be considered feminist characters in This Side of Paradise?

Rosalind Connage and Eleanor Savage can be considered feminist characters due to the various statements they make about what they see as their unfair fate as women. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses both characters as a lens through which to view the newly evolving roles of women during the first two decades of the 20th century, when they won the right to vote and were becoming much more liberated in their style and attitudes toward marriage. In Book 2, Chapter 1, Rosalind reveals to one of her suitors that she believes there is a "new" kind of kiss, where a man is kissed and deserted. Before, she postulates, women were either kissed and deserted or kissed and engaged, and now women have taken it upon themselves to make their own decisions about how they feel about men. She tells her suitor that "given a decent start any girl can beat a man nowadays." When Amory Blaine meets Eleanor, she is the first girl to enchant him since Rosalind, and she seems to hold similar views as Rosalind about marriage and the ways in which women can feel trapped. She laments to Amory in Book 2, Chapter 3 that while he can run around breaking hearts and being himself, she is "tied to the sinking ship of future matrimony," even though she is just as smart as he is. She sees herself as too bright for most men, and feels that she is forced to descend to their level. Both Eleanor and Rosalind reflect the changing attitudes about marriage during their time, and the notion that with more liberation also came more frustration.

In This Side of Paradise, what role does poetry play throughout the novel?

Poetry is a huge influence on Amory Blaine and his friends at Princeton, and they spend much of their time quoting, reciting, and composing it together. For Amory, it is one of the clearest ways he feels he can express himself, though he struggles with believing that he has any talent at it. He and his friends are also greatly inspired by the contemporary poets they read throughout the war, many of whom are young men the same age as they. F. Scott Fitzgerald even takes the title of the novel from a poem by World War I poet Rupert Brooke, excerpted in the book's epigraph. For Amory, poetry is a mirror on the world, and a format that crystallizes his emotions and beliefs about it and his role in it. It can be, at times, a self-indulgent way to romanticize the world around him at the expense of reality, as in the case of his romance with Eleanor Savage, with whom he shares a love of poetry that leads to an ill-fated romance. At other times, poetry (such as Monsignor Darcy's poem composed to Amory during the war) can reveal a true depth of human emotion and connection.

How does Amory Blaine's concept of the "slicker" apply to him in This Side of Paradise?

In Book 1, Chapter 1, Amory Blaine defines the "slicker" versus the "big man." The slicker represents Amory's own "secret ideal," the self he hopes to construct by carefully manipulating appearances, such as "dresses well" and choosing "activities ... he can shine in." Like the slicker, Amory aims to go to college and become "in a worldly way, successful." Amory adds extra qualifications, including courage and "tremendous brains and talents." The slicker's opposite is the "big man," who lacks a knowledge of "social values" and is careless about appearances. His future is merely "problematical." Amory succeeds in being a Princeton slicker to a large extent. He understands how the college social scene works and becomes increasingly successful at fitting in. He chooses a variety of activities in which to "shine." As time goes on, however, Amory fails to fulfill the slicker's "worldly" success, as his life becomes "problematical"; he loses love and money and never demonstrates "tremendous brains and talents" as he had hoped.

In This Side of Paradise, what comment about the fixed or fluid nature of personality does F. Scott Fitzgerald make through the character of Amory Blaine?

Readers observe Amory Blaine's personal growth from a precocious young child under his mother's guidance to a young man alone and adrift in the world after experiencing heartbreak and loss. In many ways, Amory's "fundamental" self remains the same—he is an egotist at heart but is also deeply vulnerable and highly observant. What shows itself as fluid in Amory's personality is his capacity for self-discovery, as well as the way in which he absorbs outside influences through friends like Burne Holiday and Monsignor Darcy that inspire him to behave differently. F. Scott Fitzgerald's characterization of Amory suggests that in many ways, certain aspects of personality are fixed but other aspects are open to change.

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