Individual Reading: This Side of Paradise

Yana Efremova
3 min readFeb 28, 2023

‘This Side of Paradise’ is a novel by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1920. It consists of book ONE called “The Romantic Egoist” and book TWO called “The Education of a Personage.”

The book ONE is primarily focused on the main character’s (Amory Blaine) childhood and youth.
Amory comes from a rather wealthy family, his mother is an intelligent, well-educated woman. They lived in luxury, traveling around the world, and, as a result, Amory turned to a disobedient and spoiled child.
Even sending him to the Catholic Church did not help to change his behavior.
So, we meet an egotistic, selfish but quite handsome and high-minded bachelor who is very popular among ladies. However, Amory did not have many friends, but even those who were presented in the story, some of them died or disappeared in the end of the book ONE. (Sad emoji)

One of the main themes in book ONE (and I think it will develop in book TWO) is the problem of identity. Amory is questioning himself, thinking about the meaning of his life. He relied mainly on his breathtaking handsomeness and wealth in order to get by in life. At the same time his idea of searching for his identity entailed just imitating the personalities of those he admired. It became obvious in the pattern of Amory’s love interests. His first love, Isabelle, was a strong-willed lady who knew what she wanted. Amory fell in love with her because of her distinct personality. Amory’s next love, Rosalind, represented Amory’s latent desire for the luxuries that he lost with the death of his parents.

One more theme presented in book ONE is the problem of egotism. Amory had pride, he was bred by his mother to be a complete egomaniac. At some point, Amory even suffered from a lack of energy because he spent all his strength trying to hide how superior he felt to other people. Moreover, just about every character was exceptionally self-involved and seemed to place themselves at the center of the universe.

Talking about symbols in the story, I believe that we can call World War I a symbol. In book ONE Amory was forced to take part in the war, which became a turning point in his life. The war brought lots of cruelty, heartbreaks, deaths, and it also gave Amory some knowledge of life.
I would say that WWI is a symbol of life experience and the changing of Amory’s inner life.

Vocabulary:

  • briskly — in a quick, energetic way.
  • resignation — the act of telling your employer that you are leaving your job.
  • reproach — to criticize someone, especially for not being successful or not doing what is expected.
  • latent — present but needing particular conditions to become active, obvious, or completely developed.
  • futile — (of actions) having no effect or achieving nothing.

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