This Side of Paradise | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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This Side of Paradise | Quotes


All in all Beatrice O'Hara absorbed the sort of education that will be quite impossible ever again.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 1

Beatrice Blaine's background also lays the framework for how she raises Amory. Her education consists of learning a highly refined form of social snobbery, and she hands this sense of superiority down to her son. As a result, Beatrice and Amory find themselves increasingly alienated from a world that doesn't appreciate this attitude.


Amory wondered how people could fail to notice that he was a boy marked for glory.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 1

This insight from the narrator highlights the ways in which Amory Blaine thinks of himself as superior, thanks to the influence of his mother, Beatrice. Although Amory holds himself in high regard, he is also plagued by doubts due to his feeling of alienation among his peers, who fail to warm up to him due to his excessive egotism.


He had formulated his first philosophy, a code to live by, which, as near as it can be named, was a sort of aristocratic egotism.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 1

This observation shows Amory Blaine's early evolution as a young man who is forming his own conception of himself. The fact that he comes up with his own "philosophy" reveals how Amory takes himself very seriously, especially given his youth. Amory's role as "egotist," along with his yearning to appear successful and exceptional, is a recurrent theme throughout the novel.


He used [his friends] simply as mirrors of himself, audiences before which he might do that posing absolutely essential to him.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 1

This observation of Amory Blaine shows that he hasn't developed a talent for making friends, a lack that will affect him well into his young adulthood. Part of the problem is that he not interested in his peers for who they are but rather how they improve his social prospects. Amory only wants to be surrounded by people who reinforce his own image of himself, as he strikes poses of sophistication and accomplishment in his obsessive need to enhance his social status.


If [the war] had not continued he would have felt like an irate ticket-holder at a prize-fight where the principals refused to mix it up.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 2

This insight illuminates Amory Blaine's tendency to distance himself—or see as abstract—anything that doesn't affect him directly. When the war begins, it is no more than a gory spectacle to him. Amory treats it as the equivalent of a boxing match, and the bloodier the better, otherwise it will fail to hold his attention. This shows Amory's inability to recognize larger events outside himself or to empathize with their participants. His response is a particularly negative side effect of his egotism, and it makes him unsympathetic at times.


Isabelle had been for some time capable of very strong, if very transient emotions.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 2

This characterization of Amory Blaine's first love, Isabelle Borge, is significant if only for the fact that it can be applied to the other women that have had a hold over Amory during his young adulthood—his mother, Rosalind Connage, Eleanor Savage. All are intense and volatile women. The description also applies to Amory himself, emphasizing how he seeks women who mirror him.


How much of his sudden unhappiness was hurt vanity—whether he was, after all, temperamentally unfitted for romance.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 3

This revelation occurs to Amory Blaine after his breakup with Isabelle Borge, a relationship that sours after he realizes that "he had not an ounce of real affection" for her. Yet his insight also reveals a flash of Amory's awareness of his own egotism—realizing that his vanity has been hurt. He fears that, underneath it all, this shows that he is somehow unsuitable for romance, perhaps incapable of love. This worry will follow him into subsequent relationships.


Burne seemed to be climbing heights where others would be forever unable to get a foothold.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 4

This observation of Burne Holiday by Amory Blaine demonstrates the increasing admiration and influence that Burne has over him. Amory struggles with conforming in order to fit in versus going his own way as an "unconventional" person. Burne is true to himself. Amory seems to realize that this is because Burne is committed to his own beliefs, whether others disagree with him or not. Amory feels jealous of Burne but also looks up to him because Amory lacks the confidence to do the same.


Clara's was the only advice he ever asked without dictating the answer himself—except, perhaps, in his talks with Monsignor Darcy.

Narrator, Book 1, Chapter 4

Clara Page is different from the other women Amory Blaine loves. In addition to the fact that his love for her goes unrequited, Amory recognizes that he wants his romantic interests to act as mirrors for him. He "dictates the answer[s] himself" so that he can hear what he wants to hear, not what the women actually have to say. This signifies that he doesn't have the greatest respect for them. They exist to feed his ego, and he does not really consider them as real people. Yet with Clara, he actually listens to her and respects her opinion. In this way, she resembles the most deeply influential person in his life—Monsignor Darcy.


Given a decent start any girl can beat a man nowadays.

Rosalind Connage, Book 2, Chapter 1

Here, Rosalind Connage gives voice to feminist ideas that were gaining popularity at the time F. Scott Fitzgerald was writing the novel, on the brink of the 1920s—the idea that women were slowly approaching equality with men but were still at a disadvantage due to society's rules and expectations. Rosalind's way of showing this is to treat her suitors in a fickle, callous way to demonstrate her independence.


She had ... brought from his unplumbed depths tenderness that had surprised him, gentleness and unselfishness that he had never given to another creature.

Narrator, Book 2, Chapter 2

Here, the narrator offers an assessment of Rosalind Connage's impact on Amory Blaine, and how their relationship changes him fundamentally because he experiences emotions he never had before. Because Amory in the past has been egotistical in his love affairs, the fact that Rosalind triggers unselfishness in him makes him feel vulnerable and generous for the first time toward a woman he loves. Sadly, after their breakup he also realizes that he will likely never love this openly or deeply again.


You can do anything and be justified—and here am I with the brains to do everything, yet tied to the sinking ship of future matrimony.

Eleanor Savage, Book 2, Chapter 3

Here, Eleanor Savage echoes the earlier feminist sentiments of Amory Blaine's former love, Rosalind Connage. Both characters note how women are increasingly allowed to play a larger role in society; for instance, through voting and working. But like Rosalind, Eleanor laments the fact that she still cannot live with the same freedom as a man. Despite having more choices as a woman than ever, she is expected to follow what remains the socially conventional path for women: marriage.


But as Amory had loved himself in Eleanor, so now what he hated was only a mirror.

Narrator, Book 2, Chapter 3

Amory Blaine once again reveals the fickleness of his intense emotions in love when he begins to feel repulsed by Eleanor Savage's vulnerability. He had admired and been drawn to her intensity and love of poetry, which were the equal of his own. But seeing her reveal herself to be vulnerable also makes him loathe his own vulnerability and pretentiousness, which she reflects back at him. In this light, he doesn't hate actually Eleanor—he hates himself.


He felt that life had rejected him.

Narrator, Book 2, Chapter 4

By the end of the novel, Amory Blaine is overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness, rejection, and despair. Reminders of Rosalind Connage make him wince in pain, and with his finances dwindling, his dreams of becoming successful begin to shatter in the face of reality. Amory has also lost some of the people closest to him, such as Monsignor Darcy, so he has few people to turn to for reassurance or guidance. This emotional crossroads will lead Amory to a final revelation about himself and the new kind of life he wants to lead.


He found something that he wanted ... to be necessary to people, to be indispensable.

Narrator, Book 2, Chapter 5

At Monsignor Darcy's funeral, Amory Blaine is moved by how "people felt safe when [the Monsignor] was near." So did Amory, whose friendship with him was one of the only real connections he had with another person. This inspires Amory to reach beyond his egotism and to consider giving this same sense of security to others. When he goes to the funeral, Amory has hit a low point in his life after his loss of Rosalind Connage and a steep decline in his finances. He could use a greater sense of security himself but, instead, wants to provide it to others. This desire "to be necessary to people" represents an important turning point in the way he sees himself and his place in the world.

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