The Lees of Happiness by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The final short story from my 2013 Deal Me In project is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Lees of Happiness”.  In somewhat of a departure from the other Fitzgerald stories I’ve read this year in Tales of the Jazz Age, this one has real people with real problems.  Even if it contains a little melodrama and sentimentality, I enjoyed it for the fact that the characters show a depth of humanity and responsibility that doesn’t frequently appear in Fitzgerald’s 1920’s “lost generation”.

Jeffrey Curtain, a budding writer, marries Roxanne, an actress.  They move to a Chicago suburb  with the proverbial house with a picket fence.  They move in social circles that are typical of Fitzgerald’s characters; however, tragedy strikes when Jeffrey suffers a blood clot in the brain and becomes essentially “brain-dead”.  Most of the story revolves around Roxanne’s sacrificial giving of her life to taking care of Jeffrey.  There are those that criticize her for continuing to maintain her marriage – those that tell her that Jeffrey wouldn’t want her to “waste” her life this way.  I would not say that Fitzgerald is attempting to take a stance on the “right to die” issue, by any means (nor am I attempting to do that with this post).  I think he just wanted to show one human being committed to another for better or worse, in sickness and in health.

While I still consider The Great Gatsby one of my favorite books, I am well aware of the shallowness and decadence portrayed in that novel.  I think Fitzgerald, himself, was aware of the situation and that’s why he wrote the novel.  But I’m glad he wrote a story like “The Lees of Happiness”, also, showing humanity with something more.

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10 responses to “The Lees of Happiness by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. Hi Dale,
    This sounds like a good one. Somehow I forgot to include any Fitzgerald in my 2014 list. Thanks for joining me in this project this year. I have enjoyed reading about your selections.
    -jay

  2. Hi Jay!
    This project was definitely the highlight of my blogging year. As far as Fitzgerald goes, I have to admit that the stories I read this year from Tales of the Jazz Age were a little disappointing. I was pleasantly surprised by this one and if you want a story just for the shear comedy I’d go with The Camel’s Back.
    -Dale

  3. I am developing a great fondness for Fitzgerald. I read Gatsby shortly after I finished college and didn’t care for it, but I read it again about a year ago and was staggered by its breathtaking prose. So I read “This Side of Happiness” and didn’t like it nearly as well, but I plan to read more in the future. I’ll try to find something at the library with “The Camel’s Back” in it!

    • Fitzgerald has been one of my favorites since my 10th grade English class (which was a while ago) when I read Gatsby. The stories I’ve posted about are all from his collection “Tales of the Jazz Age”. So far, some are better than others, but The Camel’s Back was the funniest!

      • I found Jazz Age on the library website and put in a hold request on it, so will be starting it soon. I’m excited to get back to some Fitzgerald again! Thanks for bringing him back into my reading consciousness. (Not that he’s ever entirely out since I used part of a Fitzgerald quote to title my book blog, but you know what I mean.)

  4. Just finished “Tales of the Jazz Age” at last, and wow! This story blew me away. I was actually moved to tears, which has never happened for me with Fitzgerald before. Thanks again for recommending this collection!

    • Glad you liked it. I was a little surprised at this story myself. I don’t think Fitzgerald glorified the shallowness that is found in a lot of his stories. It was more like he was “pointing it out”.

      • Yes, much of the time Fitzgerald feels very much like the reporter/observer saying, “Hey, here’s what’s going on, here’s what people are doing. What fools these mortals be!”

  5. Pingback: Finally finishing “the Jazz Age”… | Mirror with Clouds

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