In her less important moments she returned to America, met Stephen Blaine and married him—this almost entirely because she was a little bit weary, a little bit sad. (1.1.3)
Amory's mother Beatrice is a fairly depressed person, and it's during one of her funks that she travels to America and marries Amory's father Stephen. It's not a great reason to get married, and it hammers home the message for Amory that marriage ain't always romantic.
"I'd marry that girl tonight." (1.1.251)
Amory admires people who can express their feelings clearly and without any hesitation. In this case, one of his friends says that he'd like to marry an actress he's just seen on a Broadway stage. Now this would have been during a time when actresses were thought to be scandalous people. But this dude doesn't care, and Amory wishes he were more like his buddy.
"Oh!" Amory gasped in horror. "She wouldn't think of marrying… that is, not now. I mean the future, you know." (1.2.373)
When asked whether he's going to marry Isabelle Borgé, Amory answers that Isabelle isn't interested in marrying yet. But in truth, he's probably talking about himself.
But he fell gradually in love and began to speculate wildly on marriage. (1.4.215)
Amory likes to think about marrying his distant cousin Clara. But the fact is that Clara has already lost one husband and isn't interested in doing the whole marriage thing again. This just goes to show that when it comes to marriage, Amory can sometimes seem doomed.
"I'd never marry again. I've got my two children and I want myself for them." (1.4.264)
As she tells Amory, Clara has no interest in getting married after her first husband has died. She has her children and only wants to take care of them. She doesn't want to divide her love between them and a new husband.
"You're not in love with me. You never wanted to marry me, did you?" (1.4.267)
Even after she has already rejected Amory, Clara is convinced that he never wanted to marry her in the first place. Amory admits that it all might have been a pipe dream, but it was a beautiful pipe dream.
"Any one who marries me will have his hands full. I'm mean—mighty mean." (2.1.214)
Rosalind Connage warns Amory early on that she's very mean and that any man who marries her will have a tough go. But Amory doesn't listen, and he ends up getting his heart shattered.
"Amory […] when you're ready for me I'll marry you." (2.1.309)
Rosalind promises Amory that she'll marry him if he wants. But here's the thing: she totally ends up dumping him and breaking his heart because he's not enough of a big shot for her. How's that for love?
"But in regard to matrimony, you are now at the most dangerous period of your life. You might marry in haste and repent at leisure, but I think you won't." (2.2.253)
Monsignor Darcy thinks that Amory marrying Rosalind is a bad idea from the first moment he hears about it. And time ends up proving him right, because Rosalind dumps Amory and leaves him scarred for life.
"I haven't the patience to write books; and I never met a man I'd marry. However, I'm only eighteen." (2.3.45)
Eleanor Savage is a free spirit, and that's what Amory loves about her. But she might be too much of a free spirit in the end (at least according to 1920s society) because she likes her freedom so much she can never imagine herself giving it up by marrying.
Vanity, tempered with self-suspicion if not self-knowledge, a sense of people as automatons to his will, a desire to "pass" as many boys as possible and get to a vague top of the world… with this background did Amory drift into adolescence. (1.1.142)
Amory is such an egomaniac during adolescence that he thinks the people around him are a bunch of robots or "automatons." In other words, he thinks only he is a full human being and everyone else is just an obstacle standing between him and greatness.
"I want to pull strings, even for somebody else, or be Princetonian chairman or Triangle president. I want to be admired, Kerry." (1.2.109)
Amory makes his case clear to his buddy Kerry when he says he wants people to admire him. He wants to be a big shot, but the problem is that he doesn't really want to work hard along the way. He basically wishes he had the talent necessary to become famous without having to try.
He asked her if she thought he was conceited. She said there was a difference between conceit and self-confidence. She adored self-confidence in men. (1.2.237)
Isabelle Borgé says that she likes Amory's pride. But that's only in the beginning. Once they've known each other for a while, Isabelle changes her mind and decides that Amory's pride is actually really annoying.
As in the story-books, she ran into them, and on that half-minute, as their lips first touched, rested the high point of vanity, the crest of his young egotism. (1.2.438)
There's nothing that strokes Amory's ego more than kissing a pretty girl. In fact, it all seems to go downhill from this moment. The only time we see Amory this happy again is when he's kissing another pretty girl—Rosalind Connage.
"Not a bit of it!" scoffed Monsignor. "You've lost a great amount of vanity and that's all." (1.3.161)
Amory feels like he's lost his innocence and vitality as he's gotten older. But his mentor Monsignor Darcy thinks that all he's lost is a whole lot of vanity and pride. Monsignor thinks this is a good thing. But it sometimes seems as though Amory is an engine that runs on pride, and that without pride, he has no motivation.
"Well—no, you have tremendous vanity, but it'll amuse the people who notice its preponderance." (1.4.226)
It doesn't take long for Clara to recognize Amory's giant pride. But rather than scold Amory for it, she says that his pride is kind of charming. There are too many people who pretend to be modest all the time, and it's refreshing to meet a guy like Amory who can't hide even when he tries.
"I can't marry you and ruin both our lives." (2.1.411)
Rosalind doesn't want to marry Amory because she's certain that she'll make him miserable. The truth is that Amory isn't good/wealthy enough for her. Rosalind knows she'll never be happy unless she marries someone rich and respectable, and even though she loves Amory, she feels that love isn't enough.
"I'm sick of a system where the richest man gets the most beautiful girl if he wants her, where the artist without an income has to sell his talents to a button manufacturer." (2.5.206)
The fact is that Amory wants all that life doesn't have to offer. He wants to be appreciated (and paid) simply for being who he is and he wants a beautiful girl at his side. But he doesn't feel as though he should have to play the game to get these things. He doesn't want to work for some boring company to make his money, and he doesn't want beautiful girls to flock to men just because the men are rich.
Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through a revery of long days and nights; destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil to follow love and pride. (2.5.245)
Amory looks around and sees a bunch of young people who are about to go through the exact same process he has. They're going to lose their youthful enthusiasm as soon as they realize how boring they'll have to become to live a comfortable adult life. They'll start with a lot of pride, but Amory is convinced they'll all get beaten down like him. There's a depressing thought.
"I know myself […] but that is all." (2.5.251)
In the final line of this book, Amory insists that all he really knows is himself. But this just begs the question: does he actually know himself at all? It's nice to think that we know ourselves, but it's impossible to ever be sure. So in this sense, Amory's final statement might be a total fantasy that's built on his lingering pride.
His father, an ineffectual, inarticulate man with a taste for Byron and a habit of drowsing over the Encyclopedia Britannica, grew wealthy at thirty through the death of two older brothers. (1.1.1)
Amory's father wasn't much of a role model. The guy was a lazy dude who got rich because his two hardworking brothers died and left him their estates.
In consequence, Stephen Blaine handed down to posterity his height of just under six feet and his tendency to waver at crucial moments, these two abstractions appearing in his son Amory. (1.1.1)
The only things Amory really inherits from his dad are his height and his difficulty in making decisions. Thanks for all that, Dad.
When Amory was five he was already a delightful companion to her. (1.1.4)
Beatrice thinks of Amory more as a little companion than as a son. He's almost like a toy poodle that she likes showing off to her friends. And as you can imagine, this isn't the healthiest way to grow up.
"Dear, don't think of getting out of bed yet. I've always suspected that early rising in early life makes one nervous." (1.1.8)
Amory's mom Beatrice wants him to sleep in all the time because she's convinced that getting up early in the morning will make him nervous. In other words, she wants him to live like a spoiled prince.
She fed him sections of "Fêtes Galantes" before he was ten; at eleven he could talk glibly, if rather reminiscently, of Brahms and Mozart and Beethoven. (1.1.15)
As he grows up, Amory learns a lot of fancy stuff from his mom, who is determined to turn him into a sophisticated elitist. Even before he's ten, he's talking like a snob about classical music.
As [Amory and his mother] kissed coolly and he stepped into the electric, he felt a quick fear lest he had lost the requisite charm to measure up to her. (1.1.143)
Amory sees his mother as someone he should live up to, but not in a good way. He obsesses about whether he can keep up with her in terms of coolness and style. It'd be nice if their relationship was based more on love than style, but oh well. C'est la vie (as the super-stylish French say).
"I'd never marry again. I've got my two children and I want myself for them." (1.4.264).
Clara won't marry Amory because she wants to save as much of herself for her children as she possibly can. It's tough for Amory, but he respects Clara's decision because he knows she's a good Mama Bear.
"I've enjoyed imagining you were my son, that perhaps when I was young I went into a state of coma and begat you, and when I came to, had no recollection of it… it's the paternal instinct, Amory." (I.5)
Monsignor Darcy confesses at one point that he wishes he were Amory's father. He has always felt a fatherly affection for Amory, and besides, it's not like Amory's real dad did a great job in his role as Papa Bear.
"Yet when I see a happy family it makes me sick to my stomach." (2.2.225)
Amory can barely stand to look at a happy family (and not just because they're all alike) because he knows that it is something he never really experienced growing up. Now he's been dumped by his fiancée and he wonders whether he'll ever get the chance to start his own family… happy or not.
"Well, my first point is that through a mixture of conditions of which the family is the first, there are these two sorts of brains." (2.5.154).
Family is the main factor that shapes people's personalities, at least within the world of This Side of Paradise. And depending on what kind of family you have, your brain can turn out two different ways—happy or unhappy.
"The doctors told me […] that if any man alive had done the consistent drinking that I have, he would have been physically shattered, my dear, and in his grave—long in his grave." (1.1.156)
Beatrice Blaine seems to brag when she talks to Amory about how much drinking she's done over the years. She almost treats her alcoholism as a mark of sophistication. If she lived today she might have a t-shirt that says, "The liver is evil, it must be punished."
He put his face in his hands and covered eyes and ears as well as he could. During all this time it never occurred to him that he was delirious or drunk. (1.3.244)
Amory has a bad habit of not realizing when he's crossed the border between Tipsytown and Hammeredsville. You can tell by the way that he covers his eyes and ears that alcohol is something he uses to escape from the world and all its problems.
Wilson had another; Amory had several more. (2.2.22)
Once Rosalind has dumped him, Amory turns to drinking to help numb his pain. After all, it's hard to regret your past when you can't even think straight. Or so it would seem…
"Cel'brating blowmylife. Great moment blow my life. Can't tell you 'bout it—." (2.2.28)
Amory is willing to explain to people at the bar that he hates his life… well, he's willing to say it; we can't imagine that most people would understand it. But he's not willing to into the details of why. It looks like the guy has the makings of a world-class barfly.
He awoke laughing and his eyes lazily roamed his surroundings, evidently a bedroom and bath in a good hotel. (2.2.42)
Ah, and here comes the worst part of drinking—the hangover. The weird thing is that despite his stomach and headache, Amory wakes up laughing. He doesn't know where he is, but he's so depressed by this point that he doesn't care.
His head was whirring and picture after picture was forming and blurring and melting before his eyes, but beyond the desire to laugh he had no entirely conscious reaction. (2.2.42)
Everything around Amory keeps spinning when he has a hangover, which is really a symbolic reflection of how his whole life is spinning out of control.
As the new alcohol tumbled into his stomach and warmed him, the isolated pictures began slowly to form a cinema reel of the day before. (2.2.47)
It's only when Amory gets back to drinking that he's able to remember what he did that night before. You can tell at this point that he's totally dependent on alcohol because he can't function properly without it.
At noon he ran into a crowd in the Biltmore bar, and the riot began again. (2.2.57)
Amory isn't going to stop drinking until his mental pain goes away. But the problem is that drinking just leaves him feeling worse each morning, and the only way to feel better is to drink again. Now that's what you call a vicious cycle.
Amory crossed the street and had a high-ball; then he walked to Washington Square and found a top seat on a bus. (2.2.160)
Amory's favorite way to start his day is with a drink, especially after he's had his heart broken. But you have to wonder if he'd drink even if he didn't have his heart broken. After all, his problems with the world go deeper than failed romance. He seems to dislike everything about modern life.
Amory, his head spinning gorgeously, layer upon layer of soft satisfaction spreading over the bruised spots of his spirit, was discoursing volubly on the war. (2.2.222)
It's no surprise that Amory talks about fighting in World War I when he's drunk. The war has no doubt left a deep scar on his mind, and it's reasonable to think that it's the war, and not just Amory's broken engagement with Rosalind, that's at the heart of his drinking problem.
Children adored him because he was like a child; youth reveled in his company because he was still a youth, and couldn't be shocked. (1.1.194)
Children love Monsignor Darcy because he has managed to grow old without losing his sense of boyish wonder and his ability to keep an open mind to all things.
As he put in his studs he realized that he was enjoying life as he would probably never enjoy it again. Everything was hallowed by the haze of his own youth. (1.2.436)
At a young age, Amory realizes that his life is going to run downhill as he enters adulthood. This is a sad thing to think, but he's pretty convinced that once he has had his first kiss, everything else will seem boring.
"And what we leave here is more than this class; it's the whole heritage of youth." (1.4.347)
When Amory thinks about leaving school, he thinks about leaving behind his youth. Now it's time to enter the adult world of jobs and paychecks.
His youth seemed never so vanished as now in the contrast between the utter loneliness of this visit and that riotous, joyful party of four years before. (2.1.34)
Amory can only think about the parties of his youth now that he's grown into a young adult. The shift saddens him, although let's be honest; it's not like he was the happiest kid in the world.
Tireless passion, fierce jealousy, longing to possess and crush—these alone were left of all his love for Rosalind; these remained to him as payment for the loss of his youth. (2.1.35)
After Amory has had his first true love with Rosalind, all that's left is his desire to destroy things and feel jealous of Rosalind's new lover. It doesn't seem as if adult life has left him with any positive emotions.
"Oh—I am very youthful, thank God—and rather beautiful, thank God—and happy, thank God, thank God." (2.1.284)
Rosalind Connage is thankful for her youth and beauty. Make hay while the sun shines, Rosalind! Carpe that diem.
She had taken the first flush of his youth and brought from his unplumbed depths tenderness that had surprised him, gentleness and unselfishness that he had never given to another creature. (2.2.165)
It's pretty clear that the end of his relationship with Rosalind marks a major shift in the life of Amory Blaine. She even brought qualities out of him that he didn't know he had. But alas, like youth, their love was bound to end. Le sigh.
Let the days move over—sadness and memory and pain recurred outside, and here, once more, before he went on to meet them he wanted to drift and be young. (2.3.78)
Amory doesn't want to enter adulthood because he knows a life of boredom and mediocrity is waiting for him. All he wants to do is drift and be youthful. But Amory isn't Peter Pan. Sooner or later, he'll have to grow up and confront the world. The funny thing is that Fitzgerald became a famous author at twenty three and never looked back, so the guy never had to get a true day job like Amory.
"I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again." (2.5.39)
As Amory clearly states, he's not interested in living in a childish Neverland for the rest of his life. He wants to be young again so he can have the experience of losing his youth over and over. For him, there's nothing sweeter than the move from innocence to experience. But once it's done, he feels all used up and wants to do it all over again.
"Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they are the candy." (2.5.39)
Amory is not a sentimentalist. He's not interested in returning to his childhood. He doesn't want to have an uneaten plate of candy in front of him… he wants to be eating. He wants everything he learns to be as new and as exciting as it was when he first learned it.
"He's a radiant boy […] But his education ought not to be entrusted to a school or college." (1.1.217)
Monsignor Darcy thinks that Amory is a special boy. But he also thinks that Amory can only flourish if someone like Darcy takes the boy under his wing. A school or college will try to make Amory conform to normal ideas of genius, and Darcy thinks this will crush Amory's spirit (which it kind of does).
We have no Eton to create the self-consciousness of a governing class; we have, instead, clean, flaccid and innocuous preparatory schools. (1.1.226)
Fitzgerald's narrator doesn't pull any punches when he gives his opinion of American prep schools. In his mind, they serve no real purpose other than to remind rich kids that they're rich.
"He'll fail his exams, tutor all summer at Harstrum's, get into Sheff with about four conditions, and flunk out in the middle of the freshman year." (1.1.269)
One of Amory's favorite activities as a young man is to think about his colleagues' futures. He seems especially good at predicting how they'll fare in school and what they'll end up doing afterward.
"He'll always think St. Regis spoiled him, so he'll send his sons to day school in Portland." (1.1.269)
Amory goes on predicting his friends' academic careers. This kind of speculation helps show just how confident Amory is in his knowledge of other people. But this is a confidence he loses as he gets older and more educated.
The war began in the summer following his freshman year. (1.2.164)
World War I breaks out in Europe in Amory's second year of school. But it doesn't affect him until his final year because the U.S. doesn't get involved right away. Once he's drafted, though, Amory ends his education and begins a whole new kind of education on the battlefield.
That night, they discussed the clubs until twelve, and, in the main, they agreed with Burne. (1.4.30)
Burne Holiday is a real rebel. He actually thinks that purpose of Princeton is to educate people instead of offering them a bunch of exclusive clubs to belong to. The nerve! Who wants knowledge when you can have status instead?!
She had had a harried life from sixteen on, and her education had stopped sharply with her leisure. (1.4.212)
Amory's cousin Clara got married very young and didn't have the opportunity to continue her education as a result. This was one of the unfortunate consequences of marriage for women back in Fitzgerald's time. Once you were married, the world expected you to quit school and raise your kiddos.
Then he walked up to the desk and deposited a page torn out of his notebook. (1.4.328)
Amory is sick of all the boring stuff he's been learning in his university classes. When the war in Europe breaks out, he's convinced that humanity hasn't learned from its past and never will. So he writes a poem about the failures of the adult generation and hands it to his professor.
"I possess the most valuable experience, the experience of the race, for in spite of going to college I've managed to pick up a good education." (2.5.204)
Amory makes a cutting comment about Princeton when he says that he's managed to get a good education in spite of going to college. In other words, college fills a person's head with all kinds of normal, conformist ideas. But education is all about training your mind to think for itself, and Amory thinks he's only been able to do this outside of school.
Until the great mobs could be educated into a moral sense some one must cry: "Thou shalt not!" (2.5.241)
Amory wishes that the world were capable of thinking for itself. But unfortunately, people are still too immoral at heart to self-govern. In Amory's mind, this is why people still need religion and laws. They need some higher power to tell them what to do because they won't act morally on their own.
When [Darcy] came into a room clad in his full purple regalia from thatch to toe, he resembled a Turner sunset, and attracted both admiration and attention. (1.1.193)
Amory can tell that Monsignor Darcy is an impressive dude from the moment he meets him. The guy has this aura of awesomeness that anyone can see, which suggests that maybe you really can tell a lot about someone from their looks.
"What a remarkable-looking boy!" (1.1.248)
In the opening chapter of This Side of Paradise, we learn all about Amory Blaine and his dashing good looks. Fitzgerald never loses an opportunity to remind us that Amory is very handsome, which is kind of funny really, since Amory is probably a stand-in for Fitzy himself. Way to pat yourself on the back, F. Scott.
"I wanted to come out here with you because I thought you were the best-looking girl in sight. You really don't care whether you ever see me again, do you?" (1.2.189)
Amory knows the score, and he's willing to tell a girl point-blank that he's talking to her because of her good looks. He also knows that the girl doesn't care if she sees him again. But it doesn't matter because they're both beautiful and life is short.
Amory was now eighteen years old, just under six feet tall and exceptionally, but not conventionally, handsome. (1.2.194)
Sure, Amory might not be conventionally handsome, but this is just Fitzgerald's way of saying that he's handsome and unique. So it's really a double compliment.
"The light-haired man is a higher type, generally speaking. I worked the thing out with the Presidents of the United States once, and found that way over half of them were light-haired—yet think of the preponderant number of brunettes in the race." (1.4.83)
Burne Holiday has done some research and discovered that there is a disproportionate number of light-haired presidents of the United States. The overall point he's making here is that people inherently have more trust for people with light hair, which: wow. Way to be all sorts of racist there, Burne.
But all criticism of Rosalind ends in her beauty. There was that shade of glorious yellow hair, the desire to imitate which supports the dye industry. (2.1.47)
Sure, you can criticize Rosalind's personality all you want. But you can't criticize her beauty. Even if you thought she wasn't good-looking, you'd be objectively wrong… according to Fitzgerald's narrator.
"I can't say sweet things. But you are beautiful." (2.1.267)
Amory doesn't want to say a bunch of lame come-on lines. All he knows is that Rosalind is beautiful and he doesn't mind saying so to her face.
"Beauty and love pass, I know… Oh. there's sadness, too. I suppose all great happiness is a little sad. Beauty means the scent of roses and then the death of roses." (2.1.327)
Rosalind is pretty deep for someone who's always been showered with praise for her looks. She knows full well that her beauty won't last forever. And neither will her love for Amory…
Oh, she was magnificent—pale skin, the color of marble in starlight, slender brows, and eyes that glittered green as emeralds in the blinding glare. (2.3.31)
Eleanor Savage is a beautiful young woman whose main purpose in this novel is to help Amory forget about his heartbreak with Rosalind—at least for a few months. It's sad that Amory can't get over Rosalind because Eleanor seems like a great girl for him. But alas, it isn't meant to be.
[Rolls] of not undignified fat had collected near his chin; somewhere above was a wide thin mouth and the rough model for a Roman nose, and, below, his shoulders collapsed without a struggle into the powerful bulk of his chest and belly. (2.5.88)
This description of a rich man paints a picture of wealth and excess. The guy is pretty fat, yet Amory thinks of his fat as kind of dignified. After all, this guy has made a lot of money and if he wants an extra pork chop with supper, who are we to tell him no? Still, there's also a hint of laziness that lurks beneath this man's appearance, and if anything, Amory envies him for it.
They lunched in a gay party of six in a private dining-room at the club, while Isabelle and Amory looked at each other tenderly over the fried chicken and knew that their love was to be eternal. (1.2.429)
Hahaha. Eternal love between Amory and Isabelle? The two of them totally stop liking each other at the first sign of trouble. But hey, that's the fantasy of young love for you.
He had arrived, abreast of the best in his generation at Princeton. He was in love and his love was returned. (1.2.436)
Amory feels like the rest of his life will be easy now that he's in love with a girl who loves him back. Little does he know that his problems are only going to get bigger as he gets older. This is really the last time we'll ever see him this happy.
But he fell gradually in love and began to speculate wildly on marriage. (1.4.215)
Amory knows he shouldn't fall in love with his distant cousin Clara. But he does anyway and makes plans to marry her. It doesn't come as a surprise when she says no, but he still feels bad. The poor guy just thinks that having someone in his life will make his problems go away.
"You're not in love with me. You never wanted to marry me, did you?" (1.4.267)
Clara knows that Amory never really loved her. He just said he did because he wanted to be in love with someone. He's tired of being alone; but that's not the same thing as loving a specific person.
"I wonder if you know you love me." (2.1.212)
Rosalind isn't a shrinking violet. She plays all sorts of headgames with guys and constantly accuses them of being in love with her. The truth is that many of them are, so she ends up getting the upper hand on almost every occasion.
"Suppose—we fell in love." (2.1.261)
Amory falls in love with Rosalind the moment he first lays eyes on her. But rather than say it directly, he asks her to entertain the hypothetical scenario of them falling in love. It's a thin ploy and Rosalind knows it. Before you know it they're totally making out and saying they love one another.
"I love you—now." (2.1.284)
Rosalind is a lot more of a realist than Amory. She knows that her feelings change all the time, which is why she always adds the word "now" when she tells Amory she loves him. What she's really saying is that she loves him now… but probably won't later.
Within two weeks Amory and Rosalind were deeply and passionately in love. (2.1.285)
Well there you have it. Amory and Rosalind fall in love almost immediately. But things that come easily tend to go easily, too, and that's exactly what happens. Rosalind keeps loving Amory, but she decides not to marry him because he doesn't have enough money or status.
Yet was Amory capable of love now? (2.3.75)
After his split with Rosalind, Amory wonders if he'll ever be able to love again. The fact is that we still don't know the answer by the end of the book. Being left by Rosalind was bad enough, but being left for some other dude because of money and status is enough to make Amory give up on love altogether.
She was gone, definitely, finally gone. Until now he had half unconsciously cherished the hope deep in his heart that some day she would need him and send for him. (2.4.142)
When he sees the notice for Rosalind's engagement in the paper, Amory knows that she's gone for good. He has always hoped that love would prevail and she'd come back for him, but it doesn't look like this is what will happen.