Journey to Self-Actualization

By: Brian Bejoy

Brief Summary

  • Amory (protagonist) was born into wealthy a family, where he was raised by a self-conceited, single mother. Being raised in such an atmosphere, he developed an egotistic personality.
  • Amory's egocentric mindset led him to believe in the illusion that his future would be monumental. This often led him to live in his imagination rather than reality.
  • However, Amory gets struck with the truth through his struggles in the search of love. He has multiple relationships and his struggles in the search for the true meaning of life, through his experiences in Princeton University.
  • After each experience, Amory ended up suppressing his ego, as he thought that it was something to be ashamed of due to all of the negativity it caused in his life (break-ups).
  • However, as the novel advances, Amory learns that he mustn't banish his selfishness, rather he should embrace and accept it.

This Side of Paradise Vs. Fifth Business

Although Amory Blaine and Joel Surgeoner differ in the way they approach certain aspects in life, it is in fact, their similarities that reveal their progression of morality and perception of women. Both men's progression of morality is reflected as they grow to their fullest potential. Their perception on women can be seen as the same, as women influenced them on their road to self-discovery.


1. In both novels, it is evident that Amory and Joel's morality is crooked, as they struggle with finding the true purpose in life. However, it becomes evident as the novels proceed, that their values alter, ultimately leading to the progression of their morality.

2.Although Amory and Joel perceived women in a negative light, by using women to satisfy their selfish desires; women play a large role in both of their lives as they become vital to their journey to self-actualization.

Quotes for Argument #1

Amory Blaine

"But more than that, he has formulated his first philosophy, a code to live by, which, as near as it can be named, was an aristocratic egotism ... Physically - Amory thought he was exceedingly handsome ... Mentally - Complete, unquestioned superiority." (Fitzgerald 12)

"'Yes - I was perhaps an egotist in youth, but I soon found it made me morbid to think too much about myself.'" (Fitzgerald 198)

Joel Surgeoner

"'I didn't rape her, Mr. Ramsey; you heard her say so herself. Not that I wouldn't have done, the state of mind I was in. I was at the end of the rope ... I threatened her and asked for money. She hadn't any; then I grabbed her.'" (Davies 122)

"' It was as if I had gone right down into Hell and through the worst of the fire, and come on a clear, pure pool where I could wash and be clean.'" (Davies 124)

Quotes for Argument #2

Amory Blaine

"'Well I thought you had a lot of self-confidence ... You didn't seem so self-confident tonight. Maybe you're just plain conceited' ... He lay awake in the darkness and wondered how much he cared - how much of his sudden unhappiness was hurt vanity- whether he was, after all, temperamentally unfitted for romance" (Fitzgerald 69)

"He stretched out his arms to the crystalline, radiant sky. 'I know myself,' he cried, 'but that is all.'"(Fitzgerald 213)

Joel Surgeoner

"'...I ran out of that town laughing and shouting like the man who was delivered through that women, and she is a blessed saint, for what she did for me - I mean it as I say it - was a miracle.'" (Davies 124)

"'I don't remember anybody from that night except the woman herself. It was her that turned me to God.'" (Davies 122)

Connection to Frye

Motive for Metaphor: Third Level of Literature (Imagination)

According to Frye, this level of literature is what one constructs/desires.

Relating this to Amory:

  • Amory's egotism resulted in him to often live in a state of imagination rather than reality as he often thought posh of himself.
  • Amory often fantasizes about his supposed future more than he actually focuses on reality.

Connection to Carl Jung

Mother set high standards --> Amory struggled to meet these standards --> Mother was disappointed in this --> Resulted in his mother not showing the adequate amount of an affection that a child requires --> Led to Amory having unstable relationships with women in the future

Since his mother did not show him the right amount of affection that a child requires, Amory often tried to fill that void with other women. However, Amory was afraid of them abandoning him, so he had a mediocre perception on relationships.

Questions to Ponder

(Amory learned to progress from the unfortunate break up with the first girl he thought he loved.) Just like Amory, have any of you went through an unfortunate situation which made you grow as a person?

How do you believe one can reach the state of self-actualization?

The only way to truly reach your fullest potential in life is to accept and love yourself ...

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