Time is inevitable, it can not be stopped and it will not change its pace. It is inevitable that we will grow, that we will change with time, that we can’t go back and change what’s done. Your time here is scarce and must be spent wisely. F. Scott Fitzgerald appears, almost obsessed by the inevitability of time, as it appears across four of his texts: The Diamond As Big As A Ritz, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Great Gatsby and Winter Dreams. Throughout this essay, Fitzgerald’s ideas surrounding the inevitability of time, often shown through social realism, will be explored across these four texts.
The Diamond as big as a Ritz is based around a family’s wealth: the Wellingtons. The Wellingtons wealth was based upon their hidden estate, built on an isolated hill made of diamond. Although the family was isolated, to protect its wealth they would still enjoy the natural things in life, such as visitors, because they have come to realize the inevitability that time is passing and will eventually run out. The Wellingtons view their own deaths as an inconvenience, but one that is unstoppable. They carry the perspective that “We can’t let such an inevitable thing as death stand in the way of enjoying life while we have it”. Something that Fitzgerald seems to touch on, a few times, is how the Wellingtons don’t value others lives, only their own and would kill even their own to keep their secret pristine. They make their ‘victims’ lives rich and fulfilled before selfishly taking their life, after they have completed the task of entertaining the family. They felt as if they had the right to kill people, because everyone else fell in heir shadow and was inferior in every way. Especially since they aren’t in the same socially ‘elite’ class of the Wellingtons. Fitzgerald published The Diamond as Big as a Rits during the 1920’s just after World War One, during this time period the upper and lower class was more segregated. John. T Unger is an example of a ‘lower class’ victim. John was from Hades, a poor town. He was selected to be the ‘sacrificial lamb’ for the Wellington’s happiness. They will continue to take others lives over, and over, fueled by their want for happiness and a social life before their time here is inevitably over. Fitzgerald has incorporated the inevitability of time into the Wellingtons and how they reap the benefits of life, leaving an underlying message that time continues to go on and inevitably can not be changed or stopped. This sends an underlying message, to the reader, that you must take what you can from life, whilst you have it. Time just slips through your fingers and before you know it, it’s gone. The Diamond as Big as a Ritz, has a similarity to The Great Gatsby that revolves around the inevitability of time: Fitzgerald commonly focuses on the characters realisation that the currents of time will inevitably continue on, so they must reap the benefits of life whilst they can, even if it means exploring the idea, or way in which they can travel back in time. The Wellingtons, however, have accepted that their time is running out, unlike Jay Gatsby. Instead, Gatsby doesn’t just consider going back in time, he actually tries to go back and erase five years of his past. However, he was unsuccessful, in this impossible feat because time is inevitable and cannot be stopped.
Gatsby is an unusual Character, an illusion his seventeen-year-old self had invented. Gatsby lived by this platonic conception, as he only had one true ambition in life, it became so intense that it consumed his very being. He wanted to be a man of status and upper class, but what better way in which to do that than to solidify it by marrying a woman of wealth and ‘elite status’. Fitzgerald was likely to be influenced to weave this into his story, because he, himself, married a woman of status: Zelda Fitzgerald. Zelda has family ties to the U.S government, making her a woman of higher class. Gatsby’s woman of higher class became Daisy, as his sight became fixated on her, the girl he had this undeniable desire to forever be with as if his soul were bound to hers. Daisy, however, wasn’t on the market, since she had married in the five years they spent apart. Gatsby was unable to accept this, and attempted to go as far as to travel against time, beating on against the current, “So we beat on, like boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”. However, he was unsuccessful, because one cannot go against the current of time, only with it. Gatsby is implied to be the boat, with his back, turned to the past five years he had without Daisy as if it were erased. The water symbolises time and how it is a current, like a river, so strong that it can’t be gone against or change. Time isn’t to be meddled with or gone against, it is inevitable and erasing time is simply a means to an end. This, in itself, delivers the message that not only is time inevitable, but also impossible to change. You must live in the present and never try to go against its currents, as it would only be a feeble act. Gatsby carries the same idea as Benjamin does, in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Gatsby and Benjamin both believe that it’s never too late to be who you want to be. Gatsby believed that he couldn’t be true to his platonic conception of himself without Daisy, even though she was married, he was certain that it was never too late. Gatsby believed this until his dying breath.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, by F.Scott Fitzgerald, revolves around a man who was born elderly and ages backwards. Benjamin’s ‘condition’ is based off progeria*, but in reverse. Like everyone, Benjamin has limited time as he nears death every second, only that he physically nears his ‘birth’. For Benjamin and everyone alike, he has a limited number of years, because time goes on and never stops. Benjamin, though he wishes to back in time to when he was still happily living with Daisy, he realises he can’t, but still tries to take the best things out of life, to be the best person he can be, “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be.”, Benjamin knew that he was different from everyone else, that he was growing younger, but he also knew that he was the same, in the way that he was inevitably nearing his death. So he didn’t let how he aged bother him, instead he realised that although the currents of time will always continue, it was never too late, or in his case too early, to be whoever he wanted to be. This quote was likely to have been influenced by Fitzgerald’s personal experience of wishing to go back in time to before World War One, before he had to experience the horrors of war and gruesome deaths. Fitzgerald always had a passion for literature and was afraid that might he die he would never get to fulfil his dream. So when the war ended Fitzgerald set about his dream and made himself into who he wanted to be: a man of literature. The importance of this message is that it doesn’t matter who you are or how scared, you may be, it’s never too late, or too early to be who you want to be. Because you determine who you are in the future.
A boy, Dexter, of only eighteen and a beautiful-ugly girl of eleven, had a rather unpleasant first meeting, over the summer. Their second meeting, however, a little under a decade later, revealed a sparking connection between the two. Her, name was Judy, Judy Jones, the daughter of a wealthy golfer. Judy quickly became apart of Dexter’s fantasy, something he called, his ‘Winter Dream’. “Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion, of youth, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished.”, as Fitzgerald later describes Dexter’s broken ‘Winter Dream’. Everyone has a unique desired dream, that they seek to complete in their lifetime, but what they all have in common is that they feel this need, this urge, to be rich and youthful, with a partner of status. Judy Jones was Dexter’s desired partner of status. By marrying her Dexters social class would rise to match Judies. With Judy and a higher social class, Dexter would come into a lot of wealth through Judys ‘old money’. This realisation and fantasy created the foundations for Dexter’s ‘Winter Dream’. With this torn away from him, once Judy had married, his illusion of a winter dream, cracks open, causing him grief. Although he could have carried this grief, in a sense, he didn’t, it was left behind in the country of illusion; where his winter dream truly started, on Sherry Island. Unconsciously, Dexter became dictated by his dream, as it was an underlying fact to every choice he made. For everyone there comes a time for everyone to let go of old dreams, because as time goes on, you change, you grow, and those old society influenced fairytale dreams, such as the standard American Dream, no longer fit. Before World War One the american dream may have differed, but after the war, status amongst high wealth was socially highly valued. These values and dreams are still unconsciously upheld through society, even now; over a hundred years later.
Over time, things change, we change. F. Scott Fitzgerald showed this through the connection of the inevitability of time, across the four texts, discussed. Within each text, the inevitability of time was taken from a different angle. Though the angles in these four texts were all greatly influenced and shown through social realism. The social realisms usually varied between the segregation between the upper class and the lower class societies, and World War One. These both surrounded F.Scott.Fitzgerald, from 1914 to the mid-1920’s. Each of these differing angles expresses a different way in which time affects our lives. Time is inevitable, it will continue to flow and the time that you have left must be used wisely, doing things that you love and won’t try to travel back in time to change, as Gatsby tried. Benjamin expressed that time is a never-ending thing and that whilst you don’t carry it in the palm of your hands, you must be whoever you want to be, no matter who you are or how different you are. Everyone has a dream, but your life shouldn’t become dictated by it or any fantasy, as Dexter’s did. And lastly, enjoy life and take what you can from it, without reaping another’s happiness, as the Wellingtons made this mistake and it cost them their lives. All of these have in common the inevitability of time and how little of it you have during your lifetime.
*A rare syndrome in children characterized by physical symptoms suggestive of premature old age. It only affects one in four million births.