Summary: BOOK THREE, Chapter III
Another year passes. Anthony and Gloria move even farther uptown and lose even more of their income. Gloria’s old friend Muriel visits the new apartment. Anthony reports progress on the lawsuit, but Muriel lectures him about neglecting his friends and suggests he find work. Anthony and Gloria start arguing, and Anthony storms out. Gloria confides to Muriel that Anthony now drinks all the time. After Muriel leaves, Gloria pours herself a drink and cries in self-pity.
Anthony gives up his last club membership and start’s drinking at Sammy’s, a speakeasy. He likes Sammy’s because no one there knows him. He drinks at home, too. Anthony hates being sober. He meets Richard Caramel for the first time in months. Richard insists on taking Anthony to his new, book-lined apartment, where he brags about his writing career. Anthony goes home in a cab, drunk.
Anthony and Gloria continue to drink and bicker. The bank informs Anthony that they have closed out his account. Anthony and Gloria still have some bonds they can sell, but they have almost no cash left. They consider people from whom they might borrow money. Anthony goes to Sammy’s and cadges some drinks. He staggers out. Near the Biltmore, Anthony spots Maury Noble with a young girl. He approaches Maury to ask for a $10 loan, but Maury just helps the girl into a cab, and they drive off. Next, Anthony seeks out Bloeckman. He accosts Bloeckman in a public place and threatens him for not giving Gloria the movie role. Bloeckman beats Anthony up and tosses him out on the street. A stranger takes him home in a cab, but Anthony can’t pay the fare. Three weeks later, the lawsuit ends. Richard picks up Gloria to take her to court for the verdict. Anthony plans to join them. While he’s working up his courage, Dot appears at his door.
Dot has seen an item in the paper about the lawsuit and has come to tell Anthony she loves him. He screams at her to get out and threatens to kill her. He picks up a chair and smashes it before he blacks out. Gloria and Richard return with the news that the lawsuit has been decided in their favor: Anthony is now worth $30 million. Gloria and Richard find Anthony sitting on the floor, surrounded by his stamp collection. He tells them to get out or he’ll tell his grandfather.
Together with the Sparrows
On board the ocean liner The Berengaria, two passengers gossip about Anthony Patch, who’s been spotted in his wheelchair above deck for the first time. It’s well known that he’s been a bit crazy since he inherited his money, perhaps because of Shuttleworth’s suicide shortly after the court ruling. The two passengers note that Anthony travels with a private physician and talk about Gloria’s Russian sable fur coat. One passenger imagines that Anthony is thinking about his money, but Anthony is actually thinking about all the tribulations he has gone through, when even Gloria deserted him. Anthony thinks about how he now has Gloria again and how everyone respects him. He thinks about how he never gave up and how he’s finally showed them all and come through.
Analysis: BOOK THREE, Chapter III
Both Anthony and Gloria behave like children in the final chapters of the novel, and this behavior further expands on the conflict between reality and delusion. In the previous chapter, as Gloria frets about her lost youth and regrets not having children, she longs to be a little girl again. In this chapter, Anthony plays with his childhood stamps and threatens, in his madness, to tattle to his grandfather, just like a little boy. These sad images, of two delusional people caught up in their misery and selfish wants, illustrate how the desire to do nothing and avoid the responsibilities of life is an attempt to remain childlike forever. Gloria and Anthony both have grand delusions about who they are. Gloria thinks she’s a great beauty, immune to the ravages of time. Anthony thinks he’s a socialite and academic, high above the common man. But in essence, what they both want, and what they court through lawsuits and debauchery and mutually-assured destruction, is to remain in the halcyon haze of youth forever. In some ways, Anthony achieves this wish, as his psychosis cuts him off from the harsh realities of grown-up life and allows him to make believe his own lonely reality.
The final chapter brings Anthony’s experiences with waste, wealth, and alcohol to their inevitable yet predictable conclusions. The fact that they win the lawsuit and $30 million is blunted by the image of Anthony, who has finally gone mad, poring over his childhood stamp collection. This is a striking juxtaposition with the image that Anthony has always held of himself, a society man living in a high-rise above the working class and immune to the financial and societal rules that affect everyone else. The final scene brings Anthony wheelchair-bound and alone on the deck of The Berengaria, likely on his way to a leisurely life in Rome. It is unclear if Gloria is with him, though onlookers note that Gloria was recently there. Fitzgerald grants Anthony one last moment of self-delusion as the crazed socialite says to himself that he has finally shown everybody. Though he has, by his terms, won, and in many ways considers himself a victor, his descent into what seems to be alcoholic psychosis, his destroyed reputation, and his lack of friends suggest the opposite. Anthony’s path toward being a “victor” cost him dearly.