I’ve been hearing this title thrown around a lot in the media, mostly due to the new Brad Pitt movie. I didn’t really know the plot though, just that it was a movie he was working on. I saw the title on a bookshelf, and that caught my interest. I saw that it was a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and that really piqued my attention.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a story of a person who is born at at almost 60 years of age during the Antebellum in Baltimore. As the years go by, Benjamin grows younger and younger until finally hitting his infancy.
Its written by Fitzgerald, so of course it is a social commentary smorgasboard. When Benjamin is first born, he is treated terribly, by his parents, and by the city residents. As a 60 year old man, his father buys him a rattle and makes him play with childish toys when Benjamin has the mental capacity of a 60 year old man. As Benjamin devolves, his way of thinking devolves too. It is interesting that when Benjamin is 18, and looks 50, he gets married. he has a son Roscoe. Benjamin is successful on all counts, and is a charming and optimistic man. He fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898.
I found it amusing that as he got younger his wife blamed it on Benjamin just being “stubborn” and not trying to stop it, as if it was something in his control. He was “being different” on purpose.
As Benjamin got younger, his son Roscoe, eventually became his guardian. Roscoe looked at Benjamin with such disdain.
It seems that anyone under the age of 16 and anyone over the age of 40 leave a blemish on society. When Benjamin was 20, he was a Harvard football hero. At 5, he was playing with strips of colored paper and was near neglected by his own son, who demaned that Benjamin call him “Uncle” instead of Roscoe.
Benjamin did live a full life, he just lived it backwards. Is that maybe not a more peaceful way to go? Benjamin’s birth and his death mirror each other in how he was treated by family, and also reflects how society in general treats family. The life Benjamin lived show that society is quick to forget something, until it can be used as rumor or gossip.
This is a long post. This was a short read, but a good read. I hope the rest of Tales of the Jazz Age will be just as fun to analyze.