Sometimes it’s so much fun to find yourself, or someone you know, in a fictional character. Sometimes it’s disheartening if it’s a character not meant to be likable. Sometimes the association is very bizarre. (Or is that just me? I do tend to make weird associations …)
I was just reading from a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald stories, and finished up “The Rich Boy,” which took me a while for some reason—probably because there’s not much dialogue. I really didn’t expect to suddenly see myself in a male character named Anson Hunter, written in 1926, but I was reading a paragraph and suddenly thought, “That’s how I feel,” or “That will be me in a few years.” As I read on, I got the feeling that I was reading my future (only, as a woman in the “twenty-tens,” not a man in nineteen twenty-six), to some degree. And I’m not really sure what that means, or how I feel about that. Perhaps nothing. Maybe it’s just because it’s cold and rainy out, and I have been very introspective (meaning: self-critical) lately.
Below I have posted part of the passage I mean, but I have to make a note: As may be suggested by this part of the story, I have been dealing with loneliness lately, and that’s mostly why this story struck me. But I mainly connected with Anson’s relationship with his friends—not so much his dissatisfaction with being single. I’m in a pretty good place right now in terms of being single, so I didn’t read it with the thought of, “Yes, I also don’t think I will ever marry” (although I do still have those moments), but more like, “Yes, this is where I feel like my friendships are going.”
At twenty-nine Anson’s chief concern was his own growing loneliness. He was sure now that he would never marry. The number of weddings at which he had officiated as best man or usher was past all counting … for couples who had passed completely from his life. Scarf-pins, gold pencils, cuff-buttons, presents from a generation of grooms had passed through his jewel-box and been lost–and with every ceremony he was less and less able to imagine himself in the groom’s place. Under his hearty good-will toward all those marriages there was despair about his own.
And as he neared thirty he became not a little depressed at the inroads that marriage, especially lately, had made upon his friendships. Groups of people had a disconcerting tendency to dissolve and disappear. The men from his own college–and it was upon them he had expended the most time and affection–were the most elusive of all. Most of them were drawn deep into domesticity, two were dead, one lived abroad, one was in Hollywood writing continuities for pictures that Anson went faithfully to see.
Most of them, however, were permanent commuters with an intricate family life centering around some suburban country club, and it was from these that he felt his estrangement most keenly.
In the early days of their married life they had all needed him; he gave them advice about their slim finances, he exorcised their doubts about the advisability of bringing a baby into two rooms and a bath, especially he stood for the great world outside. But now their financial troubles were in the past and the fearfully expected child had evolved into an absorbing family. They were always glad to see old Anson, but they dressed up for him and tried to impress him with their present importance, and kept their troubles to themselves. They needed him no longer.
I don’t consider myself as important as Anson seems to think himself throughout the story, but still … it struck a chord, as they say.
I guess it’s relatable because it’s just a part of life.
Good lord, that’s depressing.
Why can’t the fun part of the 1920s remind me of my life?
. . .