Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Short Story: The Camel's Back by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is the third story I have read by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I'm really starting o love his style, this is another story from the collection Tales of the Jazz Age. The story starts in this assured manner:
The glazed eye of the tired reader resting for a second on the above title will presume it to be merely metaphorical. Stories about the cup and the lip and the bad penny and the new broom rarely have anything, to do with cups or lips or pennies or brooms. This story Is the exception. It has to do with a material, visible and large-as-life camel's back.

Mr. Perry Parkhurst is one of the key players in his small society, always fashionable and good looking he is a young man with a happy future ahead of him. In love with Betty Medill, a girl who's looks belong in the movies he decides that their private engagement needs to be brought into the open and the marriage declared. Yet when he arrives on her doorstep with this proposal they bicker and he is left alone and single.
In a fit of lonliness Perry decides to party at the biggest social event in the area, the Townsend's circus themed fancy-dress party. As he is looking for a costume at the last minute he ends up attending the party dressed as a camel. His ex, Betty, falls in love with this absurd costume, giving dances and flirting with this unknown man. From his hidden vantage point Perry gets to see Betty as all the other men in town see her, as a flirt and he becomes the centre of her attention.
As the evening ends the two people with the best costumes are awarded, both Betty and Perry win and a 'fake' marriage ceremony is issued by the local minister, yet this wedding turns out to be all to real and the camels true identity is discovered. To see how Betty reacts grab a copy of the text.

I'm reading this collection of shortstories through DailyLit a free book service which delivers stories to your email address. They have a wide range of books, both non-fiction and fiction avaliable.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I read this for a school assignment, and I have a theory I think I would like to run by you. It may seem banal and obvious, but here it is:

The title derives from the Arab phrase "The straw that broke the camel's back" implying that everyone has a breaking point where something seemingly inconsequential(the straw) can damage the overall picture (the camel's back)

It only took the camel costume for Betty to realize that she loves Perry. So the camel is the straw that broke Betty's back.

Without the costume, they would both be utterly inhibited.

I could go on and on, but I'm saving most of my wordiness for the essay I will eventually write ^.^