Summary: BOOK TWO, Chapter III

The Broken Lute 

It’s the usual weekend at the gray house. Frederick E. Paramore, an upright Harvard classmate of Anthony’s, shows up during a lull in the party. Paramore makes polite conversation but refuses to drink until Gloria persuades him. The party gets wilder. Anthony flirts with Gloria’s friend Rachael, now Mrs. Barnes. Everyone starts dancing. Paramore is trying to dance like Gloria when he stumbles and falls—into the arms of Anthony’s grandfather. Old Patch has decided to make a surprise visit. He and his assistant, Edward Shuttleworth, survey the suddenly silent party. Then the old man turns and leaves.


Gloria and Anthony realize they’ve got problems. They’ve stayed in denial about their overspending by imagining their wealthy future. Now they feel afraid.


Anthony recognizes that to recover from the disaster of the party is to beg Patch’s forgiveness. But at Tarrytown, Shuttleworth informs Anthony that his grandfather is ill and can see no one. Gloria helps Anthony compose a letter of apology, but their letter goes unanswered. In September, Anthony and Gloria return to the city. On the train to New York, they pass stations that remind them of scenes from their romance. As the train moves through the Bronx, Gloria wonders where Bloeckman has been.

The Apartment 

Anthony reads about his Harvard classmates and feels his own failure. The rent on his apartment increases beyond what they can afford. Gloria confronts the reality that their income has gone down because they’ve been spending their capital. They move to a smaller apartment, farther uptown. Gloria and Anthony learn from the newspapers that his grandfather is seriously ill.

The Kitten 

Once again, Anthony tries to see his grandfather, and Shuttleworth refuses him entry. Anthony tells Gloria a nasty story about how he’d once kicked a kitten. Gloria breaks down in tears, and Anthony tries to convince her he’d invented the story. Gloria cries herself to sleep that night.

The Passing of an American Moralist 

Adam J. Patch dies, and all the news reports mention that Anthony is his heir. Yet Anthony hears nothing from Patch’s lawyers. When he finally gets through to them on the phone, he learns that Patch has left him nothing.

Next Day 

Anthony consults Mr. Haight, a lawyer, about contesting Patch’s will. Haight advises Anthony to claim undue influence, since both Shuttleworth and Patch’s physician have benefited substantially from the will. Shuttleworth now has effective control of a charitable trust fund worth more than $30 million.

The Winter of Discontent 

Anthony and Gloria’s life becomes a never-ending party. They drink so much that they don’t remember spending money. Gloria’s friend Muriel alerts them to the gossip that’s circulating: Anthony’s behavior caused Patch’s death. Desperate to earn money, Anthony tries writing cheap short stories, all of which get rejected. Gloria begins spouting her mother’s Bilphist beliefs. Bloeckman returns to New York after a year in England. He is now a rising power in the film industry. Gloria wants to take up Bloeckman’s offer to put her in a film, which angers Anthony. Then the United States enters the war in Europe. Maury, Richard, and Anthony all apply for officers’ training. Anthony is turned down because he has high blood pressure.

The Broken Lute 

Anthony and Gloria still talk about what they’ll do when they win their lawsuit and have money. Then Anthony gets drafted. The army finds no high blood pressure. Anthony and Gloria decide that Gloria will stay in the New York apartment and look after the lawsuit. Anthony boards a train heading south.

Analysis: BOOK TWO, Chapter III

This chapter leans into the dangers of alcohol and sets up the main conflict that drives the remainder of the novel. The seductive power of alcohol in the novel can be viewed as a reflection of Fitzgerald’s ongoing struggles with alcoholism in his own life. Though Paramore is avowedly sober, Anthony and Gloria’s lifestyles provide a strong temptation for him. When Paramore falls drunkenly into Adam Patch’s arm, the prohibitionist sees that Anthony has been spending his money, the fruits of his life work, on drunken debauchery. What’s more, though Anthony and Gloria are coming to an awakening about their alcohol dependence, they both remain unrealistic to the true depth of their financial peril, in part because of their continued partying. Adam Patch’s disapproval of Anthony’s lifestyle and Anthony and Gloria’s inability to see themselves clearly both illustrate how alcoholism is integral to the novel’s dark end.

Anthony and Gloria’s financial waste comes to a head at the turning point in the novel. As Anthony and Gloria’s lives are consumed by nothing but waste, they are under threat of losing the very income they have been throwing away. Adam Patch’s looming demise comes at a time when their good standing with him is under serious threat. In light of Anthony’s offense to Adam Patch and his subsequent disinheritance, Shuttleworth manages to gain control of the estate. Thus, Anthony and Gloria are, in their own eyes at least, left destitute. In a further demonstration of Anthony’s belief that society has promised him wealth, he seeks a legal remedy to the problem rather than taking responsibility and finding another way to bring in an income. Relatedly, the mere idea of Gloria becoming an actress with Bloeckman’s help does nothing but induce Anthony’s rage. The couple’s shaky financial situation and inability to address their problems threaten to shatter their marriage.