Study Help Essay Questions


1. Discuss the use of music in the novel, noting how a particular lyric or title of a popular song is used to suggest information.

2. List the dates mentioned in the novel, including the chronological age of the main characters. Is there any particular significance in the ages or the time period of the novel?

3. Discuss the McKisco-Barban duel and its significance on society and the characters involved.

4. Discuss why most of the action occurs in Europe. How does America function in the novel?

5. Discuss the recurring images of war in the novel.

6. Are the names of the characters significant? It is not wise to push this inquiry too far, but notice especially Diver, Barban, Abe North, Mary North Minghetti, Baby Warren, and the Iron Maiden.

7. How does Fitzgerald view homosexuality in the novel?

8. Dick Diver early in his career realizes that "the price of his intactness was incompleteness." Discuss his life in light of this phrase.

9. What does Fitzgerald mean by twice mentioning Grant in Galena in regard to Dick Diver?

10. Discuss the use of Rosemary Hoyt's perceptions to the progress of the novel.

11. Discuss the symbolic levels of the murder of Jules Peterson, the black shoeshine manufacturer from Scandinavia.

12. How does the character of the Iron Maiden function? What does her name mean? What does her malady symbolize?

13. Discuss Fitzgerald's use of English people in the novel, with special reference to Lady Caroline Sibley-Biers.

14. Discuss Nicole's heritage (the Warren family), as contrasted with that of the Diver family.

15. In what ways does Nicole Diver change in the novel?

16. Fitzgerald intended this to be his "psychological" novel. In what ways did he succeed in making it so, and in what ways did he fail?

17. Discuss the character of Baby Warren and the author's attitude toward her.

18. Discuss the use of movies, actresses, and actors in the novel.

19. What seems to be the function of Collis Clay as a character? Albert McKisco? Senor Real?

20. Why does Dick Diver fall in love with Rosemary? What are the consequences of his feelings?

21. How do Nicole and Dick Diver each respectively seem to relate to their children?

22. What kind of a woman is Elsie Speers?

23. Discuss the theme of incest in the novel, both its physical occurrrence and its symbolic dimensions.

24. Discuss Dick Diver's quest for innocence — why he needs it and what he finds.

25. Is Dick Diver, finally, a good man destroyed because of forces beyond his own control or because of the weaknesses in his own personality?

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