Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What qualities typify Fitzgerald's modern heroines? Illustrate your response with reference to three stories.

    Fitzgerald's heroines are young, beautiful, naive and selfish. These traits can be seen in Kismine in "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" when she is described as "the incarnation of physical perfection," at least as far as the protagonist is concerned, and is found to know nothing of the world outside her family compound. Similarly, Ardita from "The Offshore Pirate" has these qualities but perhaps more of an edge of arrogance about her. But naivete remains, as she falls for Toby Moreland's plan. Reference could also be made to Jenny Prince's rise to maturity in "Jacob's Ladder" and Sally Carrol's exploration of the Northern attitudes in "The Ice Palace." Bernice's transformation in "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and Marjorie's cruel manipulation could also be referred to.

  2. 2

    In "Babylon Revisited," how convincing is Charlie Wales in his insistence that he has changed his ways?

    Wales does seem genuine in his intent to take care of Honoria - this is illustrated when they dine together. However, his desire to buy her lots of things to make up for their separation is not what Honoria seeks. He is realistic in taking one drink per day rather than giving up alcohol completely, but this could also be seen as a way of torturing himself for his past sins, and a refusal to give up his past completely. Ultimately, as he goes first to the Ritz and hands over his address to be given to his old friends, he indicates that deep down he is still attracted to his old life.

  3. 3

    What view of the social climate in the Jazz age is presented in the stories "Crazy Sunday,", "The Lost Decade" and "Babylon Revisited?"

    Each of the stories has a cynical tone about the falsity of the social scene, its dangers and its consequences. In "Crazy Sunday," Joel Coles is drawn into the destructive games played between husband and wife, initially to make up for a faux pas committed when under the influence of alcohol. In "The Lost Decade," Orrin learns the value of the simple things in life having seen how much Trimble missed in his drunken decade. Charlie Wales has lost his wife and daughter as a consequence of his days in Paris. His wife is lost to him forever, and his hopes to take his daughter are dashed when his past catches up with him.

  4. 4

    How does Fitzgerald use setting to illustrate contrasts within his stories?

    Contrasts within settings are seen within several stories. The South and the North are described in "The Ice Palace." The luxury of the Washington property and the desolation of the village of Fish can be seen in "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz." Wales sees Paris in a different light as a sober man in "Babylon Revisited," as does Trimble see New York in "The Lost Decade."

  5. 5

    Compare and contrast the characters of Jim Powell in "The Jelly-bean" and Anson Hunter in "The Rich Boy."

    Both Powell and Hunter are unlucky in love, but Hunter's wealth and arrogance save him from heartbreak. Powell does not have money, but has a security in his pool hall success. Hunter loses Paula because of his own selfishness; Powell loses Nancy because of hers.

  6. 6

    How is the cruelty of the modern woman illustrated in "Winter Dreams" and "Bernice Bobs Her Hair?"

    Marjorie Harvey is a manipulative game-player in "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." She treats Bernice as an experiment and has no compunction in destroying her popularity as quickly as she created it. Judy Jones has been spoiled and aloof from the beginning. She plays Dexter Green and he still retains a positive image of her, until he is told that she is abused by her husband and her beauty has faded. It is only then that Green feels cheated. There is some pleasure in the knowledge that Bernice gets her revenge on Marjorie, but there is no pleasure in Judy Jones' downfall.

  7. 7

    What realistic themes are explored in the fantasy story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?"

    The story shows how innately selfish people can be in the light of others' distress. Benjamin receives no sympathy for his unusual condition from any of his family. His father is embarrassed, his brother dismissive, and his wife accusatory. There is an irony in the wild stories which are spread about Benjamin's history, and yet no one is prepared to accept the strange truth. Button is criticized when he does not fit in, which is always. Button experiences social exclusion, social notoriety and social acceptance during his strange life.

  8. 8

    How is the film industry portrayed in the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald?

    In "Crazy Sunday," Fitzgerald highlights the petty bargaining, inflated self-interest and egotism of the movie industry. Miles Calman's extensive psychotherapy sessions are described with cynicism. Joel Coles is desperate to impress his boss, so much that he makes a fool of himself. There is a clear indication that the day-to-day operation of the film studio retains its professionalism and diligence - it is only on "Crazy Sunday" when the moviemakers relax. In "Jacob's Ladder," Jenny's ascendance to stardom and maturity are quick and dramatic, and Jacob Booth cannot keep pace with her life.

  9. 9

    Zelda Fitzgerald said "F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest contribution was the dramatization of a heartbroken and despairing era." To what extent do you agree with her statement?

    There is despair and heartbreak evident in "May Day," when Sterrett shoots himself to escape the life he has with Jewel Hudson, and when Carrol Key falls to his death after only tasting freedom from the army for a few short hours. Edith Bradin is distraught when she realizes her image of Sterrett is entirely divorced from the reality. The national tension surrounding attitudes to the war is also palpable and destructive within the story. In "Winter Dreams," Dexter Green is doomed to be disappointed by the realization of his dreams. The reality of beating Mr. T. A. Hedrick at golf is no match to his earlier fantasies on the subject. His relationship with Judy Jones is distant, fleeting and destructive to everything he has. In the end, he learns that she is faded, and he is disappointed again.

  10. 10

    "From "The Offshore Pirate" in 1920 to "The Lost Decade" in 1939, Fitzgerald's view of society remains constant." Discuss this statement with reference to three stories.

    "The Offshore Pirate" is a romantic tale of a hero winning over a beautiful yet arrogant young lady. It is almost the stuff of fairy tale. However, there are still tones of cynicism. Will Toby Moreland be able to keep up this drama and illusion and hold Ardita's attention? Is the story not just an elaborate tale of an arranged marriage as generations of women have endured? In "The Lost Decade," Trimble's experiences direct Orrin and the reader to consider the small things of life important, and to be attuned to every sense rather than dulled to the norm. Lavish stories such as the fantasies "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" and "The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button" allow Fitzgerald to explore language, setting and storylines beyond reality, but the behaviors of the characters in the stories still illustrate the arrogance, greed and selfishness of the age.