Annotated Paragraph

December 7th, 2011

Dalyrimple was twenty-three and he had never worked. His father had given him two years at the State University and passed away about the time of his son’s nine-day romp,leaving behind him some mid-Victorian furniture and a thin packet of folded paper that turned out to be grocery bills. Young Dalyrimple had very keen gray eyes, a mind that delighted the army psychological examiners, a trick of having read it — whatever it was — some time before, and a cool hand in a hot situation. But these things did not save him a final, unresigned sigh when he realized that he had to go to work — right away.

In a close reading of the paragraph in Dalyrimple Goes Wrong I found that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing created not just literal meaning but literary meaning as well. Literally it is easy to understand what the author has written, but his techniques created excellent literary meaning.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of literary techniques can enable the reader to uncover the text’s hidden meaning and not just the literal meaning. The paragraph opens telling that Dalyrimple is 23 years of age and has never worked. Immediately the reader knows that Dalyrimple is not ambitious, spoiled and lacks ambitions which are all hints of Dalyrimple’s character. The author continues by describing Dalyrimple’s eyes as “keen gray eyes.” On a literary level we know that those eyes are sharp and able to see well. The eyes become a symbol because Dalyrimple uses them well during his stint of burglaries.

Alliteration is used by repeating initial consonants when Dalyrimple’s age is revealed. His age is twenty-three and with the letter T repeated it is easier to remember his age. The author uses allusion when he refers to a specific person and that person is Brian Dalyrimple who is the main character of the story. Ambiguity is also helpful in creating literary meaning. The statement “nine-day romp” is quite unclear on a literal level, but it does create literary meaning in this paragraph.

In a close reading of the paragraph, the reader will note that the etymology of individual words is important. For example, the word romp. Today when we hear the word romp we visualize children playing together but when F. Scott Fitzgerald used it in 1922 the meaning was completely different. In Dalyrimple Goes Wrong it refers to the time Dalyrimple spent fighting the Germans in World War I.

Connotation and detonation are also used by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the paragraph the author speaks of a cool hand. Literally that would mean a hand that is cold perhaps because of the weather or some other reason. That would be detonation of the word but in this literary work the connotation of the word would be that Dalyrimple was not emotional and kept his reserve during a difficult situation.

F. Scott Fitzgerald effectively uses objective correlation in his writing. This is when the author extracts emotions from the reader by describing a situation or events. The author uses it to release an emotion in the reader without describing his own emotions. Fitzgerald never writes directly about Dalyrimple’s character but instead tells of his past history and his present state. He tells us his age, his lack of employment, his two years at college when his father paid his tuition, his father’s death, his serving in the military and thus allows the reader to draw their own conclusions and react emotionally to this information. Not once did the author express his feelings about the main character but left it to the reader.

F. Scott Fitzgerald writes about mid-Victorian furniture that was left to Dalyrimple upon his father’s death. The author does not literally tell us that this was expensive furniture but it leads the reader to surmise that there was once money in the family but upon his father’s death he left a packet of unpaid grocery bills which indicates that the family’s money was gone. This technique is an example of poetic truth. By reading this paragraph the reader can then discover the truth of Dalyrimple’s background and present situation.

Foreshadowing is also present in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing. Although the author never directly tells us how or what Dalyrimple is going to do, there are hints of what is to come. When Dalyrimple gives a final unresigned sigh when he comes to the realization that he has to go to work, the reader gets the hint that he is not happy about that and with a bad attitude rarely do things work out well.

Fitzgerald’s syntax, the order in which he puts his words helped in its literary meaning. He opens the paragraph by telling the reader Dalyrimple’s age, his joblessness, his stint in the army, and all of the necessary facts about his life. Fitzgerald puts these facts into its proper order starting with his schooling, his military life, and to his current state of realizing he has to find a job right away.

After annotating relevant words and phrases from the paragraph in Dalyrimple Goes Wrong I found the paragraph to be literal and quite easy to understand. However, after a close reading and deciphering F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary techniques his creation was a masterpiece of literary meaning and understanding. By having Fitzgerald put his words in its proper order and his use of literary techniques, as readers we are able to develop a strong sense of Dalyrimple’s character.

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  1. November 4th, 2011 at 01:07 | #1

    Hi Morgan,

    Nice response. I think I wanted to hear a little bit more about how you were able to draw conclusions from Fitzgerald’s words. For example, why do Dalyrimple’s “keen gray eyes” mean he is able to see well? Are you saying that one of the denotations of “keen” is “able to see well”? What about the color gray–does that suggest anything about his character?

    I think the New Critics would like the places you identified where there is ambiguity or tension–like the “nine-day romp,” which isn’t really a romp but a war experience? Also the “cool hand in a hot situation” which makes Dalyrimple seem sort of in opposition with the world. Do you think, at the end of this passage, that readers truly understand all about Dalyrimple, or do you think that Fitzgerald is able to sustain an ambiguity to his character.

    And–what is up with his name?! I’ve never heard of a “Dalyrimple,” and keep thinking it must also have some literary meaning . . .

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