Summary: BOOK TWO, Chapter II


Anthony and Gloria spend the spring on the California coast, drifting from party to party of bright young people from the leisure class. They spend too much money, so they retreat to the old gray house for the summer. They hire a new servant, a strange Japanese man nicknamed Tana. One afternoon, after they’ve been drinking with friends, Gloria and Anthony have a public fight on a train platform. He grabs her arms and restrains her physically. She bites his thumb and draws blood. They make peace, but a darker force has entered their marriage.

Nietzschean Incident 

Gloria isn’t feeling well and fears she might be pregnant. She sobs at the thought that her body might no longer be beautiful. Anthony tells her to do whatever she wants about her possible pregnancy but to be a better sport about it.

The Practical Men 

Anthony visits his grandfather, Adam J. Patch, who is raging against the Germans, who are at war in Europe. Patch now has a secretary, Edward Shuttleworth, a former bartender. Patch suggests that Anthony should become a war correspondent. Heading back home, Anthony runs into Bloeckman on the train. Bloeckman now lives only five miles from the gray house.

The Triumph of Lethargy 

Anthony and Gloria agree he shouldn’t go overseas to become a war correspondent, but they talk about their need for money. Bloeckman comes to call, and Gloria suggests she might become a film star. Bloeckman gives her an appointment for a screen test. A few days later, Anthony returns from the city to find Gloria gone. Tana tells him she is out with Bloeckman. Anthony forgives her because she is so young and beautiful.


Anthony and Gloria wake up in the New York apartment, not remembering how they got back home. They can’t afford a California trip this year. Maury now has a good job, and Richard is getting rich as a popular writer. Anthony knows he has to find work. Adam J. Patch advises him to become a bond salesman. Anthony and Gloria celebrate his getting a job with a wild two-day party.


Anthony despises his new job and often comes to work with a hangover. One day, he quits abruptly. In mid-April, under the influence of alcohol, Anthony and Gloria mistakenly sign another lease for the old gray house, so they spend the summer there even though they can barely pay the rent.

The Sinister Summer 

Anthony and Gloria hate being alone now. They host guests every weekend, with the chief activity being drinking. Gloria and Tana dislike each other, but Anthony keeps the party going.

In Darkness 

In late July, Richard and Maury arrive for the weekend, bringing a guest, Joe Hull. Gloria doesn’t like Joe. Everyone gets drunk, including Tana. They start dancing. Joe picks up Gloria. She slaps him, and he drops her. Gloria goes upstairs to lie down. Through her haze she sees Joe at her door. She struggles into her coat and runs out into the night. Anthony chases her down the road to the train station and tries to persuade her not to go into the city. Maury and Richard arrive in search of them. The four sit on station platform all night, while Maury delivers a long harangue on the war and other topics. When the train at last arrives, Gloria boards it and leaves the three men standing on the platform.

Analysis: BOOK TWO, Chapter II

Alcoholism as a theme comes to the fore in this chapter as Anthony and Gloria fall into drinking patterns that finally have meaningful consequences for their lives. The section “Winter” is dedicated to a moment when Anthony and Gloria wake up unable to remember how they got into their apartment, blacking out after Anthony’s celebration of his new job. It should be noted that Anthony only got this job at the behest of Adam Patch, who is an outspoken advocate for temperance and prohibition. Underscoring how Adam is everything that Anthony is not and that Anthony’s drinking is increasingly out of control, Anthony quits his job in a drunken stupor and drunkenly signs a lease for a house he can’t afford. Fitzgerald places alcoholism at the center of Anthony and Gloria’s lives as they numb themselves to the fact that they can no longer entertain themselves much less each other. The couple’s unchecked drinking catalyzes a major plot development surrounding the temperance fighter Adam Patch and Anthony’s expected inheritance.

Anthony and Gloria’s marital roles motif collide in this chapter and spark their financial decline. The couple’s diminishing wealth forces Anthony and Gloria to consider their futures. Their need for money threatens the carefree lifestyle they are both committed to. The solution to their money problems is stymied both by their commitment to their marital roles and by their commitment to doing nothing at all. Gloria, in her role as the wife, won’t stand for Anthony taking a job as a war correspondent and being away from her. Anthony, playing the role of the husband, cannot be upstaged within the marriage by his wife, so he will never allow Gloria to pursue an acting career. Thus, the couple reaches a détente as they each stick to their roles – and to their idleness. Rather than confronting the issue with action, they fall back on their lethargic ways and continue to do the very nothing that will lead to their downfall.

The scenes Fitzgerald depicts throughout the party in this chapter reinforce the idea that Gloria is nothing more than an object of beauty to the men around her. Though Hull immediately disgusts and menaces Gloria, all comments she makes about her discomfort around the stranger are disregarded by Anthony, Richard, and Maury. It seems likely that she narrowly avoids Hull sexually assaulting her, a threat that comes about in part because the men in her life refuse to listen to her or treat her as a person. She is left feeling deeply unsafe. Further emphasizing Anthony’s inability to understand Gloria or take her wishes seriously, he ignores her stated desire to be alone. Because Gloria is seen as an object of beauty, the men in her life do not honor her humanity, her wishes, or her autonomy, underscoring one way the beautiful are damned in the novel.