The Rich Boy Essay, Research Paper
Richard Lehan’s evaluation of Anson Hunter, the main character in “The Rich Boy”, is overall an acceptable one. Despite its vagueness and Lehan’s inability to support his description and opinions about Anson Hunter with proof from Fitzgerald’s short story, Lehan manages to capture, in his short account, the essence of Anson Hunter’s character. Lehan is able to describe who this character is and why he behaves as he does. However, in analyzing the intriguing character Lehan, aside from not supporting his statements, also creates a few major misunderstandings, which leave a certain amount of perplexity of whether this overall analysis of Anson Hunter could be sufficiently accurate so as to appear in a collection of Fitzgerald’s short stories.
Lehan’s first sentence is without any doubt a perfect evaluation of the main character of “The Rich Boy”. Anson is definitely the type of person who “has such a sense of superiority that he can never reconcile himself to having been turned down by the beautiful Paula Legendre.” However, Lehan fails to explain why Anson feels so superior. Fitzgerald best explains why Anson feels so superior when he states that “most of our lives end as a compromise – it was as a compromise that his [Anson Hunter] life began.”
In the second sentence of the analysis, Lehan proves to have misunderstood certain parts of the story by claiming that Anson tries to revenge his loss of Paula by “winning and then dismissing Dolly Karger, and by driving Cary Sloane to suicide for having an affair with his uncle’s wife.” These two statements are a hypothetical conclusion of Lehan’s, which he fails to support. From the story it is evident that Anson does not leave Dolly out of revenge for what had happened in his past love life. On the contrary, Anson is, within certain limits, respectful towards Dolly even though “he was not in love with her?” the way he was with Paula and “?he frequently told her so” . Furthermore, as Anson realized that he sought something different from life and wanted a change and that the relationship was becoming somewhat too serious for him, he knew “?that either he must break with her or accept the responsibility of a definite seduction.”
Lehan’s second conclusion that Anson drove Sloane to suicide to get “his revenge of sorts” is proven untrue when the reader sees that, yes, Anson did interfere in the affair between Cary Sloane and his uncle’s wife, Edna, but he merely dictated certain terms. By doing so he believed that he could save his family name and public embarrassment for his uncle, Robert Hunter. The terms given by Anson were that “Sloane was to leave town for six months?[and] when he returned there was to be no resumption of the affair, but at the end of a year Edna might, if she wished, tell Robert Hunter that she wanted a divorce and go about it in the usual way.” After the encounter between Anson, Sloane and Edna, Sloane’s body is found the following morning under a bridge. The cause of death was suicide. From the above passage it is evident that even though Anson did interfere in the affair he cannot, under any circumstances, be held responsible for Sloane’s suicide. Sloane probably killed himself because he had a very weak character, unlike Anson who has a very dominant and strong character. However this difference in characters is not a valid reason to say that Anson drove Sloane to suicide.
Another discrepancy in Lehan’s analysis is when he states that Anson’s “damaged sense of self is arrested only when he learns that Paula died in childbirth.” In this statement Lehan fails to say that Anson regained confidence not merely due to Paula’s miscarriage, but also because he had had a couple of drinks and was going on his first holiday, a cruise abroad, for the first time in seven years that very day. Therefore one could assume that this sudden change was most probably due to his long deserved holiday and the cocktails, Martinis to be specific, which he had the day he learned of the unfortunate incident.
To conclude, although Lehan did write a good analysis of who Anson Hunter is and why he behaves in specific ways and feels superior to all, the quality of this greatly deteriorates as Lehan fails to support and show proof of his statements. Throughout the further half of the analysis of Anson Hunter, Lehan fully and properly describes the type of person Anson is and why he can afford to behave the way he does without any discrepancies or misunderstandings. However, despite this, throughout his whole text he still fails to support his statements with quotes from Fitzgerald’s short story. It seems as though Lehan has a specific dislike for Anson. When portraying his character, he subjectively gives the reader a negative impression of the character instead of objectively analyzing him and showing that Anson is not a bad person. He is who he is due to the way he was brought up and the era, the society and the social ranks that surround him throughout his life. Anson’s strong character should not be viewed as a bad quality, as Lehan indirectly tries to convey, but rather as a quality that is hard to find amongst people like Anson who have been ’sheltered’ throughout their lives.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Rich Boy, ”
Jazz Age Tales. Naples:
Lofredo, 1996, p. 9-59.