Posted in Short Stories

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Swimmers

Deal Me In 2020 – Week 29

France was a land, England was a people, but America, having about it still the quality of the idea, was harder to utter – it was the graves at Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies withered. It was a willingness of the heart.

I’ll go out on a limb and call Henry Marston a good guy and in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “The Swimmers”, I’ll go out on another limb and say that the good guy, or Henry Marston, wins.

All this “going out on a limb” stuff is because so many of Fitzgerald’s stories contain so many morally ambiguous characters that Henry seems to be a breath of fresh air. I was surprised how pleasant it was for a good guy to get what’s due him.

I’ve said many times before that not all stories have to have surprises and not all plots have to have twists. Even if the reader can see what’s coming a mile away, that mile can be glorious in the hands of a great story teller – like Fitzgerald. And when that last mile involves swimming, its even better.

As the final paragraph quoted above explains, there is a contrast in this story between Europe and America and its in this contrast that we can still have ambiguity. Fitzgerald gives both continents faults and flaws. Europe’s sophistication isn’t always that sophisticated and America’s money-grabbing, power-hungry landscape never gives it the moral high road. But I had to hand it to Henry as he maneuvered between both continents with such style – especially free-style.

This story is included in The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. I read it when I selected the Eight of Hearts for Week 29 of my Deal Me In 2020 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In 2020 list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

 

 

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