This Side of Paradise | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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This Side of Paradise | Interlude : May, 1917–February, 1919 | Summary

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Summary

Monsignor Darcy writes a letter to Amory Blaine, who is now a second lieutenant in the 171st Infantry stationed on Long Island. He tells Amory that he believes he will never be quite the same "Amory Blaine" again, because Amory's generation is "growing hard" from their experience in the war. Monsignor Darcy also reveals that he feels suddenly like an old man, and that this revelation has spurred him to tell Amory that he's imagined at times that they are father and son. He includes in his letter a poem that he wrote, titled "A Lament for a Foster Son, and He going to the War Against the King of Foreign."

Amory's infantry embarks to join the war overseas, and Amory pens a poem about it that night. No other information of Amory's experience during the war is given other than a letter he writes a few years later to Thomas Parke D'Invilliers, who is stationed in Georgia. In the letter, he tells Thomas that he has "a vague dream of going into politics." The letter also reveals that Beatrice Blaine has died and that Amory is resentful that she left half of his inheritance to the church "in a sudden burst of religiosity." Kerry Holiday has also died, and Amory wonders what has happened to Burne Holiday as well. He reveals that the war has made him an agnostic rather than more religious. Amory closes his letter by fantasizing about their future lives in New York.

Analysis

It is significant that F. Scott Fitzgerald chooses to reveal Amory Blaine's entire experience in the war through a handful of letters and poems rather than through any sort of exposition by the narrator. It is the first time that the reader solely sees Amory's first-person perspective, written in the form of a poem written as he leaves for war, then a letter to one of his closest friends years later. The only other view of Amory during the war itself comes from someone else's perspective: Monsignor Darcy's letter, which tenderly reveals his fond familial feelings for Amory but little about Amory's experience overseas. Monsignor Darcy says he believes that Amory will change because Amory's generation has been deeply affected by the war, but there is no sign in the letter of the war's actual effect on Amory.

Amory's letter to Thomas Parke D'Invilliers notes that Beatrice Blaine has passed away since, so now Monsignor Darcy is the closest thing he has left to a family. Amory's reaction to Beatrice's death seems cold because his primary concern is that she donated much of his inheritance to the church. This cold, unemotional response echoes the ways in which Amory has been able to shut off his emotions at will, especially with women, suggesting that, in this respect, he hasn't changed.

Amory never discusses his experience in the war with anybody after he returns. Fitzgerald leaves the reason unclear: this could either be because Amory's wartime experience was traumatic or because he simply wasn't deeply affected by it. Fitzgerald even titles this section "Interlude," as if to indicate that it was only a brief and insignificant episode in Amory's life. This contrasts with Fitzgerald's indication that the war had a profound cultural impact on Amory's generation. Presenting Amory's experience at war in the form of an "interlude" reflects Amory's own blasé viewpoint of what experiences affect him. He appears to continue being fundamentally an egotist, and because the war is not centered on him, he doesn't have much interest in it while it is happening.

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