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1-Page Summary of This Side Of Paradise
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise (1920) is about a young man who doesn’t use his college education wisely and falls in love with a girl from the South. He spends most of his time partying, which reflects the general attitude toward life during that era, when people were more concerned with having fun than they were about working hard to get ahead.
The novel begins with Amory’s upbringing in the early 1900s. He is born into a wealthy family, and they travel to exotic places around the world. They use their money to learn about different cultures. As he gets older, Amory becomes more disobedient and demanding of his mother; she suffers from a breakdown after being unable to deal with him anymore, and sends him away for schooling at Monsignor Darcy’s Catholic church.
Amory matures as he becomes older. He still doesn’t see beyond his privileged life, but he starts to become more responsible and mature. This is seen when he meets a girl named Myra at one of the parties that Amory attended frequently in high school. They kiss for the first time, which marks their relationship as something serious. As Amory gets closer with Myra, she begins to show him her true self: She’s actually very insecure and has trouble expressing herself openly because of her upbringing. Her social status was much higher than his, so it made sense that she would be nervous about how others perceive her behind closed doors. In addition to this newfound maturity on Amory’s part, we also see Beatrice’s alcoholism worsening significantly due to her mental health issues becoming apparent again after having been suppressed by alcohol for years. Eventually, Amory switches schools from St Regis Prep School in New York City to Phillips Exeter Academy in Connecticut. At first, he is reluctant about leaving all of his friends behind at St Regis, but eventually makes new friends at Exeter.
In college, Amory Blaine meets his best friend Burne Holiday and Kerry D’Invilliers. Tom D’Invilliers inspires him to start writing poetry. World War I starts, and Amory’s father dies. He visits Monsignor Darcy during Christmas break and decides not to leave Princeton because of the war. Later on, he gets drafted into the war but Burne refuses out of principle to fight in it and disappears without a trace.
The second part of the story begins after Amory’s time at Princeton. He falls in love with Rosalind Connage, but she is not interested and prefers another man. Amory realizes that he can’t force her to like him, so he uses alcohol to dull his pain. His friends are concerned about his drinking problem and want him to seek help for it.
Amory gets a letter from Darcy which pulls him out of his depression. He goes to visit him back in Maryland, where he meets Eleanor and they quickly become infatuated with each other. They reflect on the irony of their romantic affairs, which are always incomplete or naive.
In the end of This Side of Paradise, Amory’s memory of Rosalind fades. He happens upon a newspaper column announcing her engagement to a man named Ryder. He agonizes over this seeming unfairness but realizes that he is insignificant in the universe and has compassion for others.
As the novel comes to a close, Amory has undergone a complete transformation. Now aware that everyone suffers in some way, he realizes that all he can really know is himself. This Side of Paradise anticipates the future discontent of 1920s America, which was also experiencing this kind of self-reflection.