Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald Fitzgerald and Fiction: Fact or Fantasy?

It has been said that it is almost impossible to disconnect the dramatic and public lives of the Fitzgeralds from the fiction that both of them created. In these stories, there are numerous events, settings, characterizations and explorations which closely reflect the lives of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It is also important, however, to realize that Fitzgerald was exploring the attitudes, actions and events of an age, not just of his own life. The skill that Fitzgerald shows in creating what did not exist, or what may have existed, is much more valuable than simply using his stories as a record of his own famous history.

When reading “The Ice Palace,” and Fitzgerald’s creation of the cold, bitter New England and the "spiritless" individuals who inhabit it, it is important not to forget that this is Fitzgerald writing about his own country. Zelda may have had some of the qualities of Sally Carrol, but Fitzgerald himself is much more than a Harry Bellamy. Moreover, in Fitzgerald’s reality the Southern belle stays with the Northern boy, abandoning her upbringing. It is possible that in this story Fitzgerald was exploring what Zelda might have experienced in choosing him.

The romance of “The Offshore Pirate” is a story that Fitzgerald was going to have end as a dream. It is still a sort of fairy tale, but with a layer of irony in that the headstrong heroine does exactly what her uncle wanted her to do. Ardita gets everything: the hero, the family approval, even the jewels, in the form of the promised bracelet if not pirate's booty.

Much of the purpose of Fitzgerald’s writing was to entertain, and this should not be seen as a derogatory comment. Fitzgerald was a good writer, attuned to his audience and their tastes but also not afraid to experiment and challenge the reader anew. Stories such as ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” were less readily accepted by the publishers, but they have endured, and the latter is now a major feature film with a stellar cast: Fitzgerald would have been delighted.

There is obviously real life within Fitzgerald’s stories. He really did steal a butcher’s tricycle; he was a continuity writer who embarrassed himself at a celebrity party; he was at first rejected by the woman he loved and he was tempted by a young movie star. However, he was not everyone in his stories, nor did he experience everything he wrote. There were no diamond mountains, seventy-year old babies or pretend pirates. It is likely that in the heady haze of Fitzgerald’s life there were many occasions where he found it difficult to separate fantasy from reality as we do with his work.

What is evident is that in the quality of his language, his vividness of expression and his careful eye for characterization, Fitzgerald was able to make every detail he used seem extraordinary, yet real. Just as Trimble returns to the humble fascination of the bowl of a spoon and the nape of a neck, so Fitzgerald’s unique vision creates these images which endure with us today.