Date of Award

Winter 1-1-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Masters of Art In English Degree



First Advisor

Sonstegard, Adam

Second Advisor

Jeff Karem

Third Advisor

Julie Burrell


This Side of Paradise, the semiautobiographical first novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald, provides insight into the developmental life stage of post-adolescence as it depicts protagonist Amory Blaine’s journey into adulthood. Early critical conversation regarding the novel focused largely on the inconsistencies in editing and form, and while such inconsistencies cannot be overlooked, the dismissive attitude of early critics curtailed any further structural approaches to the novel. To address this problem, I use an authorial critical scope to analyze the experimental, often improvisational, structure of the novel, which has typically been viewed by these critics as the work of a “clumsy” young writer. We then add the layer of Fitzgerald’s experience writing and publishing the novel to the structural and developmental approaches in order to enrich our understanding of postadolescence in the framework of This Side of Paradise. This layered conceptual approach often illuminates the inconsistencies in comparing previous scholarship against the yetunclear post-adolescent period. One of these inconsistencies, the issue of gender in the novel, continually presents itself in existing scholarship, even without the addition of post-adolescence. In Amory Blaine, Fitzgerald has created a new sort of male character, one which is influenced by and the mirror to the female characters of the novel. Fitzgerald, though unaware of it at the time, portrays the then-emerging American identity of the post-adolescent, doing this primarily through the use of paratextual elements and mixed literary genres, as well as an emphasis through the novel on developmental and generational identity.