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F. Scott Fitzgerald “Tales of the Jazz Age”

One of the great novelists of the American literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald has been a success in the shorter form of fiction as well. Fitzgerald’s short story “The Jelly-Bean” in the novella “Tales of the Jazz Age” confirms his literary merit as a successful narrator. An analysis of the short story would ultimately make clear why Fitzgerald has been acclaimed as a great American novelist and story teller of all time. The superiority in the narrative style, the effect of the ever pondering themes that touches the gloomy aspects of life, the sheer merit of characterization, the powerful narrative voice, the use of self explanatory symbols and images, the unambiguous use of language, the expression of the most evading truths of life as they hold the writer – all these merits of the story, in an analysis indicate the superior quality of the story as well as the merit of its author. In “The Jelly-Bean” Fitzgerald provides a realistic and interesting account of the life and ways of Jim Powell, a Jelly-bean. The life as it seemed to the Jelly-bean is narrated and explicated through the story. In addition, the characterization, the narrative voice, and the style of narration have been effective in the best explication of the themes as well as the valuable portrayal of the unlucky and ominous life of the Jelly-bean. Therefore, an analysis of the short story “The Jelly-bean” has been useful in proving that the celebrated novelist Fitzgerald has been effective and successful in the shorter form of narration as well.

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The design of the story has been has been effective in representing one of the darker sides of life through the portrayal of the life story of the protagonist. It is most remarkable that the style of narration give us the notion that the narrator designed the story take the turn at the climax as has been. From the very opening of the story the narrator has been focusing on the unlucky turns of the protagonist, the Jelly-bean. The introduction of the main character, interestingly, hints the ultimate outcome of the story. “Jim Powell was a Jelly-bean. Much as I desire to make him an appealing character, I feel that it would be unscrupulous to deceive you on that point. He was a bred-in-the-bone, dyed-in-the-wool, ninety-nine three-quarters per cent Jelly-bean and he grew lazily all during Jelly-bean season, which is every season, down in the land of the Jelly-beans well below the Mason-Dixon Line” – thus begins the story. (Tales of the Jazz Age by F Scott Fitzgerald, My Last Flappers – The Jelly-Bean). What greater can one expect to turn up for such a character as it happens at the climax of the story. Jim has been ineffective in the relation with the opposite sex and has been regarded as a futile Jelly-bean of the town. All through his he had been afraid of girls and he did not wish to have a company of a woman.

However, in a turn of events he becomes interested in a girl, Nancy Lamer. Therefore, he was all uneasy when he came to know that she was going to marry Ogden Merritt from Savannah who had been chasing her all the life. The company with Nancy takes him to new romantic mood and for the first time in his life he becomes romantic. However, the general notion about the Jelly-bean as an unaccomplished man that the narrator creates at the outset of the story remains. Thus, even at the time of the most celebrated moments of Jim’s romantic life, i.e. when he is publicly declared the lover of Nancy, the unlucky turns of his life are reminded to the reader. “”Ladies and gentlemen,” she announced, “Ladies–that’s you Marylyn. I want to tell the world that Mr. Jim Powell, who is a well-known Jelly-bean of this city, is an exception to the great rule–‘lucky in dice–unlucky in love.’ He’s lucky in dice, and as matter of fact I—I _love_ him. Ladies and gentlemen, Nancy Lamar, famous dark-haired beauty often featured in the _Herald_ as one the most popular members of younger set as other girls are often featured in this particular case; wish to announce–wish to announce, anyway, Gentlemen–“… “She–stoops to–stoops to–anyways–We’ll drink to Jelly-bean… Mr. Jim Powell, King of the Jelly-beans.”” (Tales of the Jazz Age by F Scott Fitzgerald, My Last Flappers – The Jelly-Bean). This effective strategy of the narrator carves the unlucky character in a way as to suffer the ultimate loss of love and affection. The themes of bad luck and failure in life are expressed through the powerful characterization. Therefore, it is evident that the plot has been designed to represent the unsuccessful life experience of the Jelly-beans.

The superior quality of the narration, through its strong and effective voice, capturing style, simple language, the quality of the dialogues, powerful images, and involved story telling, confirms the success of the story. Although the story represents an ineffective life experience, the way it is narrated attracts the interest of the reader. The intension of the author in telling a true and realistic experience of the life takes the narrative strategy forward. It is the merit of this strategy that helps the author in representing the crudest of the life realities in the simplest but effective way.

The narrative design of the story also suggests that the author wants to represent the life as it turned up to him. Every single truth and event narrated through the effective style of the author especially points to the life experience of the author. He has been focused in narrating the story as it tells the facts of life which he encountered. It is the reason why Fitzgerald draws general conclusions of life and leads the character to the paths that can render him the greatest comfort. “All life was weather, a waiting through the hot where events had no significance for the cool that was soft and caressing like a woman’s hand on a tired forehead. Down in Georgia there is a feeling—perhaps inarticulate–that this is the greatest wisdom of the South–so after a while the Jelly-bean turned into a pool hall on Jackson Street where he was sure to find a congenial crowd who would make all the old jokes–the ones he knew.” (Tales of the Jazz Age by F Scott Fitzgerald, My Last Flappers – The Jelly-Bean).

Apart from the narrative quality and thematic merit, the story “The Jelly-Bean” has a touch of reality as life in its every realistic ways, not excluding the darker aspects of it, is represented. The story of the Jelly-bean, who leads a life of unsuccessful events finally experiencing a bitter reality of life, attracts every reader who seems to be serious about the ways of life. It is a story of superior artistic, narrative, and thematic merit and the quality of the narration, therefore, confirms the idea that Fitzgerald is a genius in the longer as well as shorter form of fiction.

Works Cited

Tales of the Jazz Age by F Scott Fitzgerald, My Last Flappers – The Jelly-Bean. Readbookonline.net. 2003- 2008. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 24). F. Scott Fitzgerald “Tales of the Jazz Age”. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/f-scott-fitzgerald-tales-of-the-jazz-age/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 24). F. Scott Fitzgerald “Tales of the Jazz Age”. https://studycorgi.com/f-scott-fitzgerald-tales-of-the-jazz-age/

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "F. Scott Fitzgerald “Tales of the Jazz Age”." October 24, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/f-scott-fitzgerald-tales-of-the-jazz-age/.

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