Building Character

Though he never graduated, F. Scott Fitzgerald attended Princeton and remained ever loyal to his alma mater. So loyal that while most of his characters attend an Ivy League college, Fitzgerald specifically sent his most autobiographical protagonist to Princeton.

In the wake of the new film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which is based on a 1921 short story by Fitzgerald, Slate has posted an article analyzing Fitzgerald’s heroes and whether they went to Harvard, Yale or Princeton.

Fitzgerald has Amory Blaine, hero of “This Side of Paradise,” his first novel, offer the following assessment of the three schools:

I want to go to Princeton. I don’t know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes. … I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic—you know, like a spring day.

The Slate article concludes:

Amory’s choice of Princeton makes perfect sense—and not just because he’s charming and rather idle. For This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald borrowed heavily from his own life. Both Amory and Fitzgerald are from the Midwest, go to boarding school on the East Coast, and have failed romances with debutantes. Fitzgerald went to Princeton—he called it “the pleasantest country club in America”—so naturally he sent Amory there, too.

A selection of the reviews for “Benjamin Button” can be found here at — CC

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