Book Report on F. Scott Fitzgerald

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F. Scott Fitzgerald


Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald once said "Mostly we authors must repeat ourselves-that's the
truth. We have two or three experiences in our lives- experiences so great and moving that
it doesn't seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up" (de Koster n. pag.).
Fitzgerald's works contain many themes that are based from experiences in his life. Many
of these experiences he talks about were with the women in his life. People like his
mother, Ginerva King, and Zelda Sayre all had major impacts on Fitzgerald. The women in F.
Scott Fitzgerald's life influenced his writing in a number of ways. The first major woman
to make and impression on Fitzgerald's life was his mother. Mary (Mollie) McQuillan was of
Irish decent. Her parents were Irish immigrants who became rich as grocery owners in St.
Paul (Bruccoli 1). Mollie inherited a fair amount of money from her family, but the family
had difficulty maintaining the high standard of living they were accustomed to (Bloom 11).
When they fell into financial trouble it was her father they turned to. The fact that
Fitzgerald's mother, rather than his father, was the financial foundation for their family
influenced Fitzgerald greatly. Even as a young boy he was aware of this situation. The
theme that arose from this about a wife's inherited money appears frequently in
Fitzgerald's writing (Magill 679). When the Fitzgeralds fell into financial trouble, the
family had to depend on Mollie's family's money. When times like that came Mollie
"abandoned the attempt to Tarleton 2 keep up her personal appearance (neglecting both
grooming and fashion), which embarrassed her fastidious son. Scott later recorded a dream
in which he admitted being ashamed of her" (de Koster 15). Furthermore, Fitzgerald's
attitude toward his mother influenced him as a person. Because two of Mollie's children
had died before Fitzgerald, she was very protective of him. She often worried about his
health and babied him. But "her attempts to spoil him strengthened his distaste for her"
(de Koster 15). She wanted her only son to have "social ambition" ("Brief Biography 1).
Fitzgerald's negative description of her in "An Author's Mother" where he describes her as
"a halting old lady" in a "preposterously high-crowned hat" reveals his feelings (de
Koster 15). Fitzgerald was affected by all these emotions towards his mother in his
personality and his work. Another influence on Fitzgerald was his first love, Ginerva
King. He met the 16-year-old during his sophomore year at Princeton and immediately fell
in love (de Koster 19). She "matched his dreams of the perfect girl: beautiful, rich,
socially secure, and sought after. The last qualification was important. His ideal girl
had to be pursued by many men; there had to be an element of competition" (de Koster 19).
His pursuit of Ginerva changed his attitude and personality. Characters based on her began
to show up in his writing. The first time Ginerva shows up in one of Fitzgerald's works is
in a short story called "The Pierian Springs and the Last Straw." Mathew Bruccoli
explains: Tarleton 3 The story develops a major theme in Fitzgerald's fiction: the gifted
man ruined by a selfish woman. The hero a scandalous middle-aged novelist who lost his
Ginerva as a young man and never got over it. When he marries her after she is widowed, he
stops writing. Much of Fitzgerald's fiction would take the form self-warnings or
self-judgements, and this story is the first in which he analyzed the conflicting pulls of
love and literature. The girl is the writer's inspiration... (de Koster 19). The woman in
his life at the time he was writing was his major influence. In the story "Winter Dreams,"
Continues for 2 more pages >>




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