Representation Of The Flaws Of American Society In F.Scott Fitzgerald’s Stories

F.Scott Fitzgerald left a legacy to writers not to be afraid to express yourself, even if it takes using your real life experiences. This helped him become a very successful writer during the 1920s. Among his literature were two famous stories, The Diamond as big as the Ritz, and Crazy Sunday. Fitzgerald dropped out of Princeton College and enlisted into the army as a second lieutenant, the armistice agreement was signed just a week before he was to go to war, although he never officially served the experiences inspired numerous writings. F. Scott Fitzgerald a product of the crass materialism of the roaring 20s, his short stories expose the decay of wealth, downsides of success, and empty minded visions of America. Next, Fitzgerald wrote during the “Jazz Era” along with a time where war is a great issue.

Fitzgerald, inspired by many things, one being his wife Zelda, another being war, along with tragedy, and failure. One of the first words Fitzgerald uttered when he met Zelda consisted of 'I've fallen in love with a whirlwind”. A character in the book The Great Gatsby was based on Zelda, their interactions and when they met. “Well, three months before I was born, my mother lost her other two children … I think I started then to be a writer.” Fitzgerald treated this as just another issue he would have to overcome in life. While in school his professors called him a “Lousy student” and he struggled with his writing but never tried to improve. His failed attempt at playing football at Princeton University made him focus more on his writing which at that point was all he liked to do.

In the short story “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” published in 1922, Fitzgerald exposes the decay of wealth and how money was thrown around in the 1920s. Going along with the theme of wealth, people practically worshiped money. Many wealthy characters such as the Washington family in the story act like they have nothing to ever worry about. The main character John T. Unger was from a privileged background and from a family who wasn't shy with their money. “Except John T. Unger, had ever arrived there save in a Rolls-Pierce and probably no one ever will again. St. Midas's is the most expensive and the most exclusive boys' preparatory school in the world”. Not only did he attend the “most exclusive boys' preparatory school in the world” and show up in “Rolls–Pierce” but he was sent off with “asbestos pocketbook stuffed with money” and “trunks full of linen suits.” Nobody was afraid to brag about the money they had as Percy tells John on the train that “My father, is by far the richest man in the world.” But this all stems from a materialistic society. Percy states “My father has a diamond bigger than the Ritz–Carlton Hotel.” A diamond symbolizes the wealth of the Washington family and the little worry they had for the control of money. Although it may not seem as though, the decay of wealth played a large role in both “The Diamond as big as the Ritz” and “Crazy Sunday”.

John T. Unger, the main character in “The Diamond as big as the Ritz” had thought the Washington family was rich because of hard work, dedication, and in legal ways. He soon comes to realize that it was a corrupt way and that they had been keeping the “Diamond” a secret, in order to retain its value for years to come. The family didn't want people knowing about the “Diamond” so when John finds out about it, they plotted to murder him, just like many prior to him. 'But there've been a few deaths and a great many prisoners. Not that we mind that, you know”. In Unger’s mind, if the family lost the “diamond” they would lose everything they have and their “unlimited wealth.” After John and his lover Kismine run away “without even a handful of diamonds” they found themselves in a whole different world where things aren't just handed to them, a life where they had to work for their things. “There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion. Well, I have that last and I will make the usual nothing of it”. He wasn't always living with the Washington family and he knows there is work that needs to be done in order to live a successful life.

Fitzgerald believed that “money was one of the most important factors in life” but he didn't like that the rich were treated differently and acted “above” people with lower amounts of money. In “Crazy Sunday,” published in 1932 “Joel Coles was writing continuity. He was twenty-eight and not yet broken by Hollywood”. Fitzgerald is showing his animosity towards Hollywood and the way that riches are handled there, as well as expressing himself in this short story. “Joel slept until eleven, then he read a newspaper to catch up with the past week. He lunched in his room… Dressing for the tea, he selected a pin-check suit”. Joel is living a “dream life” working on his own hours, being able to do what he wants, and dressing like a rich man would. His drinking became a larger issue, one that he couldn't control. He began going out in public and making himself look foolish. Although the decay of wealth may have not been a problem with Joel, it became an issue with Stella, Miles’s wife. Miles was killed in a plane crash which left Stella with a substantial amount of loss and grief, even after what Miles had done to her. The downside of success is a colossal issue for characters in both of the stories. While “everything was clicking into place in Joel's career” this was not necessarily a positive thing for him at that time. He did not yet know how to handle himself and how to control himself which caused him to make a large mistake that, luckily for Joel, didn't cost him anything. He soon realized that he had gone over his head and behaved in a way that was not okay. “DEAR MILES: You can imagine my profound self-disgust. I confess to a taint of exhibitionism, but at six o'clock in the afternoon, in broad daylight! Good, God! My apologies to your wife.” Fitzgerald himself went through something like this when he was at a Hollywood producers party where he “had too much to drink and was booed off the stage. In “The Diamond as big as the Ritz” the success of the Washington family came with a sizable downside. “The history of Fitz–Norman Washington was a long epic in gold. There were side issues, of course”.

Fitzgerald continuously voices his strong displeasure with wealth dominated people. The story struggled to get published for this exact reason, critics did not like him exposing the lives of wealthy people as well as bashing them. People thought that if Fitzgerald’s story succeeded then many upscale celebrities and wealthy citizens would disapprove of this interpretation of the life they live. Fitzgerald explains the empty minded vision of America when it came to money and commitment. The Washington family part of “The Diamond as big as the Ritz” was a perfect example of wealthy families outlooks on life as well as their vision about how less wealthy people deserve to live. The pursuit of wealth often controlled many of societies thought and interactions. Although money wasn't an issue for the Washington family and hadn't been for a while it didn't change their level of greed and empty mindedness when it came to money. Whatever had to be done to protect their money, occurred upon request no matter the cost. The family was willing to take a life to protect their wealth and to contain the secrets that the family has. Even the Washington family who had taken John in for the summer, although he didn't have one specific role as soon as he found a few secrets out, the family wanted no part of him and attempted to murder him.

The materialistic mindset in “Crazy Sunday” was nothing but money matters.Miles Calman cheated on his wife Stella with her best friend, even though we do not know if this continued during the duration of the story, clearly, Miles lacked the self-control and thoughtfulness, as a consequence he cheated on his wife who did nothing but love him. Miles acted as a money hungry man with a materialistic mindset and expected the world. His empty mindedness caused trust issues from his wife as well as for himself, as he couldn't bear the thought of his wife cheat- ing on him in response.

Fitzgerald wrote these stories primarily to explain the visions of America and how the wealthy lived. As it shows readers his feelings towards the society, how money was dealt with, and the corruption of wealth. He wrote these stories allowing people to understand life 1920’s and the 1930’s for the wealthy, the middle class, and up and coming citizens. 

01 February 2021
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