Patriotism In F. Scott Fitzgerald's May Day

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After reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “May Day,” one can argue that America—as a whole—was feeling a rather heightened sense of patriotism in response to their victory at the end of World War I. For example, this can be seen in the opening lines of the story when Fitzgerald writes, “Never had there been such splendor in the great city, for the victorious war had brought plenty in its train” (Fitzgerald 127). Undoubtedly, this quote paints a picture of massive parties in the streets teeming with joy and pride for the nation—America had just won World War I for the Allies. However, throughout the rest of the story, readers can identify that Fitzgerald anticipates trouble in post-war America. Despite the fact that the public indulged in the aforementioned…show more content…
Specifically, this is achieved by including two very distinct sides of the story: the blissful ignorance of the upper-class and the harsh reality faced by the common people and returning soldiers. Most notably, this can be seen by Gordon’s predicament and Dean’s refusal to help as well as the fact that the Gamma Psi dance at Delmonico’s takes place the same night as a series of riots haphazardly organized by masses of soldiers. As for the story’s ending, there are multiple events that occur that evoke distinct feelings. For example, Rose is left as the only character who possesses an ounce of remorse over the untimely death of Key. Despite the fact that no one questions Key’s death, Rose is arrested for breaking Harry’s leg after Edith implicates him. This reverts back to the strain between the upper and lower classes—Key’s death wasn’t investigated at all, but the public helps to overtake Rose (a soldier) simply based on socialite Edith’s word. As a result, this evokes mixed feelings of relief and pessimism. On the one hand, readers may feel relieved that some justice was achieved for the crimes against Harry. However, on the flip side, readers may also feel pessimistic due to the fact that this justice was only obtained due to Harry and Edith’s position in society, as seen by the fact that Key did not receive any…show more content…
In and Mr. Out. Amidst the serious events of the end of the story, this carefree escapade details the blissful ignorance of the upper-class. As a result, this can again provoke a feeling of pessimism, seeing as how there is no evidence that anything will change—the rich will continue to live their lives with blatant disregard for the conflicts arising in American society. As for Gordon’s suicide at the very end of the story, readers are once again left with an overall feeling of melancholy. Throughout the story as a whole, Gordon is a very troubled man who is looking for help. Unfortunately, he is denied essential help by Dean, who view helping Gordon as a burden. Specifically, this can be seen when Dean states, “I 'd like to oblige you, but I don 't feel I ought to −−it 'd put a crimp in me for a month” (Fitzgerald 135). Quite obviously, this shows that Dean was more concerned about the amount of money he could freely spend than the well-being of his friend. This self-centeredness of Gordon’s so-called “friend” is what ultimately causes his suicide, for Gordon wouldn’t have had to turn to Jewel if Dean would have been selfless. Taking all of this into consideration, it can be argued that Fitzgerald paints the 1920s as the “calm before the storm”—an era of ignorance and partying where the aforementioned tensions will fail to be resolved. While the decade will generally be carefree, all
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