富と時間の物語としての"The Rich Boy" : 持つ者Ansonへの共感を込めて
Money and Time in "The Rich Boy" : Fitzgerald's sympathy toward Anson
In their discussions on F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Rich Boy" (1926), critics have almost unanimously focused on and quoted the following famous sentences: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." They have widely surmised that "the rich" is the theme of this particular short story. While I accept this to be true, I nevertheless assert that if we restrict the meaning of the story to just the problems of "the rich," we shall be losing out on Fitzgerald's real intention.
"The Rich Boy" has an additional theme: the problem of the passage of time. The title of the short story undoubtedly refers to Anson Hunter, the protagonist. However, there is a confusing aspect to this title. Anson is not a boy but a young man, for the story chronologically traces his journey from the age of twenty-one to thirty. Fitzgerald himself regarded Anson a young man— and not a boy since he titled his collection of stories of which "The Rich Boy" is a part All the Sad Young Man. It would be thought that there was a profound significance to Fitzgerald's choosing the word "boy." He had made an attempt in his story to depict Anson struggling with the passage of time, so his choice of words seems to point to this factor. In this essay, I intend to include "the passage of time" within the ambit of my investigation of "The Rich Boy"—as indeed Fitzgerald, in my opinion, intended—and not focus on just "the rich."
Although Anson falls in love with Paula Legendre, the first woman he loves with all his heart, he is reluctant to marry her. The reason behind his disinclination is his desire to remain boy. Marriage would mean his becoming a husband and subsequently a father, a fact that he shrinks from. His attitude toward marriage signifies his unwillingness to accept a shift in his life. In other words, Anson rejects the passage of time.
Anson believes that with the aid of his immense wealth, he can stay the passage of time. In "Advice to a Young Tradesman," Benjamin Franklin mentions that time is money, which in other words means that wasting one's time is equal to losing money. Anson converts Franklin's concept of "time is money" into "money is time." In his opinion, if he has wealth, he can control the passage of time.
However, no matter how fervently he may have resisted the passage of time in his dreams, in reality, he cannot stop time's passing by. As time rolls on, Anson loses the things most important to him: his feeling of superiority, his friends, and love. His struggle with the passage of time leaves him completely defeated and solitary. In this manner, Fitzgerald does not allow his protagonist to remain a boy. However, it is worth mentioning that Fitzgerald's Anson does not make the transition from boy to man in spite of having gone through sadness, solitude, and the loss of his dream. Neither the innocence of a boy nor the sadness and pessimism of a man who has lost everything is important for Fitzgerald: what interests him is the romanticism of the conflict between reality and dream.
Generally speaking, it has been presumed that Anson inherits the character of Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby (1925). However, when we take the romantic aspect of Anson into consideration, it is apparent that he does indeed have some features in common with Gatsby. Fitzgerald's story clearly reflects his sympathy toward Anson.