Posted in Short Stories

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Porcelain and Pink

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Whenever I think of the 1920’s, two things come to mind:  the Charleston and bathtubs with feet.

A bathtub with feet literally takes center stage in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story “Porcelain and Pink”.  Within the story, there is a play that makes up most of the story.  During the play’s two scenes, the actress who plays the character, Julie, is on stage in a bathtub.  In the first scene, Julie interacts with her sister, Lois, who refuses to get her a towel.  In the second scene, Julie interacts with Lois’ date through the bathroom window (he can’t see her and actually thinks she is Lois).  The play, itself, which makes up the story, just isn’t that interesting.

The interesting, and in some ways genius, aspect of the story, is the few comments the reader gets regarding the audience.  The big question asked by the audience is whether the actress playing Julie actually has any clothes on while she’s in the bathtub on stage.  The reader, or at least this reader, didn’t really care what the actress was wearing; however, imagining the inquiring minds of the audience was rather humorous.

Creating the story about a play allowed Fitzgerald  to portray the envelope-pushing raciness of the 1920’s culture without actually making the story envelope-pushing and racy.

I’ve enjoyed the sense of humor Fitzgerald has put into these Tales of the Jazz Age, but they don’t have the same brilliance found in The Great Gatsby.  I can tell it’s hiding in there somewhere, though.

3 thoughts on “F. Scott Fitzgerald: Porcelain and Pink

  1. Hi Dale,
    The play within a play/story within a play/story within a story approach doesn’t always work for me. Sounds like this would be one of the times it does, though. Sometimes I don’t see why we readers have to be once-removed or even twice-removed or insulated from the actual story. The Turn of the Screw from our old book club comes to mind as one like that. There’s an interesting list to come up with: most famous book that are really stories within stories… Hmm.

    1. They seem to usually come off as a gimick and this one does, also, to a certain degree. But I thought it was an interesting way of showing the cultural “rebellion” of the 1920’s.

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