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This Story was intriguing to me for several reasons. Fitzgerald gradually unwinds the plot, posing new questions as he goes. Charlie seems to be someone who has experienced the best as well as the worst in life and it has made him a stronger person. However, his time revisiting Paris proves how one’s past can come back to haunt you. It seems this might be a fairly typical story in the era of the stock market boom and the infamous crash.
In this story Fitzgerald slowly shows the past of the main character, Charlie. He is obviously well educated and has been wealth at some point. He speaks of collage and communicates with elegance. Charlie gradually comes to speak of times when he threw away large sums of money for no reason other than entertainment. At one point he speaks of being treated like royalty with the other Americans partying in Paris. A page before that he tells how he spoiled Paris for himself, that the days went by without his knowing. This shows the diversity that the character represents.
The darker sides of Charlie’s life are presented through another character, Marion along with her husband Lincoln. These people are related to him by marriage only and have custody of his daughter. Marion reveals the extent of Charlie’s drinking and the problems that arose out of his marriage to her sister, Helen. Marion says that she questions Charlie’s character when he asks to take his daughter, Honoria, home with him. I find this interesting because at one point he also questions his own character saying “ he wanted to jump back a whole generation and trust in character again as the eternally valuable element. Marion seems to blame Charlie for the death of her sister almost goes far enough to accuse him of being involved saying, “How much you were responsible for Helen’s death I don’t know.”
The story takes a turn when Charlie has finally convinced Marion to allow Honoria to travel home with him. As they make the agreements Charlie’s old friends, representing his past, show up at the home of Marion and her family. When they leave Marion rushes out of the room. Her husband claims that shock makes her physically sick. I think that Fitzgerald is trying to make the notion here that Marion is in no better state than Charlie has ever been in.
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