Study Guide

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz Visions of America

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Visions of America

Fitzgerald paints a critical view of society in "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz." In this story, America is a place where the blind pursuit of wealth has replaced religion. Americans deify the rich and worship at the altar of money. It is a bleak landscape, where success and its pursuit have replaced morality. Fitzgerald creates an allegory for the expansion of America, particularly into the West, and argues that such expansion was at the cost of human values and human life. He critiques America's history of slavery as well, and doesn't shy away from implicating the founding fathers (like George Washington) as sharing in the blame.

Questions About Visions of America

  1. What specific words does Fitzgerald use to describe the natural landscape, first of Hades, and later of Montana? What effect does this have in contrasting the two settings?
  2. Compare the vision of America that Fitzgerald presents in "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" with that presented in The Great Gatsby. Has his perspective changed between 1922 and 1925?
  3. Fitzgerald devotes a lot of text time to describe the situation of the slaves Braddock Washington keeps on his ch√Ęteau. What importance does this element of the story have in the context of Fitzgerald's social critique?
  4. What arguments does Braddock Washington make to justify his behavior (toward the slaves, the prisoners, the murdered guests)? What do you think of his defense?

Chew on This

The history of the Washington family is an allegory for the expansion and growth of the United States.

"The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" satirizes immigration laws.

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