This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Part LXIII

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Every day on Daily Readers' Book Club we offer an article length section of a book until that book is done.  We are currently reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise.  This book will have 106 parts.

MRS. CONNAGE: Well, you can show him where his room is.  Tell him I'm sorry that I can't meet him now.

ALEC: He's heard a lot about you all.  I wish you'd hurry.  Father's telling him all about the war and he's restless.  He's sort of temperamental.

(This last suffices to draw CECELIA into the room.)

CECELIA: (Seating herself high upon lingerie) How do you mean--temperamental?  You used to say that about him in letters.

ALEC: Oh, he writes stuff.

CECELIA: Does he play the piano?

ALEC: Don't think so.

CECELIA: (Speculatively) Drink?

ALEC: Yes--nothing queer about him.

CECELIA: Money?

ALEC: Good Lord--ask him, he used to have a lot, and he's got some income now.

(MRS. CONNAGE appears.)

MRS. CONNAGE: Alec, of course we're glad to have any friend of yours--

ALEC: You certainly ought to meet Amory.

MRS. CONNAGE: Of course, I want to.  But I think it's so childish of you to leave a perfectly good home to go and live with two other boys in some impossible apartment.  I hope it isn't in order that you can all drink as much as you want. (She pauses.) He'll be a little neglected to-night.  This is Rosalind's week, you see.  When a girl comes out, she needs all the attention.

ROSALIND: (Outside) Well, then, prove it by coming here and hooking me.

(MRS. CONNAGE goes.)

ALEC: Rosalind hasn't changed a bit.

CECELIA: (In a lower tone) She's awfully spoiled.

ALEC: She'll meet her match to-night.

CECELIA: Who--Mr. Amory Blaine?

(ALEC nods.)

CECELIA: Well, Rosalind has still to meet the man she can't outdistance.  Honestly, Alec, she treats men terribly.  She abuses them and cuts them and breaks dates with them and yawns in their faces--and they come back for more.

ALEC: They love it.

CECELIA: They hate it.  She's a--she's a sort of vampire, I think--and she can make girls do what she wants usually--only she hates girls.

ALEC: Personality runs in our family.

CECELIA: (Resignedly) I guess it ran out before it got to me.

ALEC: Does Rosalind behave herself?

CECELIA: Not particularly well.  Oh, she's average--smokes sometimes, drinks punch, frequently kissed--Oh, yes--common knowledge--one of the effects of the war, you know.

(Emerges MRS. CONNAGE.)

MRS. CONNAGE: Rosalind's almost finished so I can go down and meet your friend.

(ALEC and his mother go out.)

ROSALIND: (Outside) Oh, mother--

CECELIA: Mother's gone down.

(And now ROSALIND enters.  ROSALIND is--utterly ROSALIND.  She is one of those girls who need never make the slightest effort to have men fall in love with them.  Two types of men seldom do: dull men are usually afraid of her cleverness and intellectual men are usually afraid of her beauty.  All others are hers by natural prerogative.

If ROSALIND could be spoiled the process would have been complete by this time, and as a matter of fact, her disposition is not all it should be; she wants what she wants when she wants it and she is prone to make every one around her pretty miserable when she doesn't get it--but in the true sense she is not spoiled.  Her fresh enthusiasm, her will to grow and learn, her endless faith in the inexhaustibility of romance, her courage and fundamental honesty--these things are not spoiled.

There are long periods when she cordially loathes her whole family.  She is quite unprincipled; her philosophy is carpe diem for herself and laissez faire for others.  She loves shocking stories: she has that coarse streak that usually goes with natures that are both fine and big.  She wants people to like her, but if they do not it never worries her or changes her.  She is by no means a model character.

The education of all beautiful women is the knowledge of men.  ROSALIND had been disappointed in man after man as individuals, but she had great faith in man as a sex.  Women she detested.  They represented qualities that she felt and despised in herself--incipient meanness, conceit, cowardice, and petty dishonesty.  She once told a roomful of her mother's friends that the only excuse for women was the necessity for a disturbing element among men.  She danced exceptionally well, drew cleverly but hastily, and had a startling facility with words, which she used only in love-letters.

Image courtesy of Peter Alfred Hess.

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