"Once again, to Zelda."
F. Scott Fitzgerald
met Zelda Sayre
, at Camp Sheridan, Montgomery, Alabama
, an Army
training camp. He and Zelda were engaged shortly after the end of the war; however, she soon ended the engagement, due to the fact that she did not wish to live on his rather small salary
. Fitzgerald proposed to Sayre numerous times over the course of the nineteen-teens; however, she did not agree to marry
him until April 2nd, 1920. Conveniently, this was one week after the publication and instant success of This Side of Paradise
F. Scott and Zelda had a tempestuous marriage. Over the later part of their lives, Fitzgerald began to develop the tendencies of an alcoholic. Zelda fared no better. In 1932, she was placed at Johns Hopkins Hospital. After leaving Baltimore, Maryland, she would grow more unstable and spend considerable time in and out of mental facilities.
Fitzgerald's novels tend to be largely autobiographical, focusing on young men who come from money and are typical of the new American generation. His heroes have so few other concerns that they are free to spend their lives looking for, and failing to find, the perfect romance. Zelda is reflected in most of his female characters, as the male leads reflect himself.
In The Beautiful and Damned, Anthony and Gloria Patch are a couple much like him and Zelda; the book details the frustration of the marriage of the Patch family and the struggle of retaining wealth in the 1920s. Anthony is a starving short-story writer living on his father's inheritance in New York City. Gloria and Anthony are both pleasure seekers, and quite unable to find any happiness in their marriage behind the turbulence which plagues it. During World War I, he enlists in the Army and heads to a training camp in the South. While there, he pursues an affair with Dot, a somewhat unstable girl; this affair is a tragic version of his and Zelda's. In the book, he leaves Dot without warning when the war ends (as was true of Fitzgerald, he was never shipped out), but returns to Gloria in New York. This is similar to the stages of their marriage, and Fitzgerald's life. As the money begins to go, so does Gloria, and the marriage breaks down as Fitzgerald's own did.
In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby meets Daisy while stationed at a southern Army camp; he falls in love and spends years of his life pursuing wealth in order to win her. Daisy is accustomed to the finer things in life, and would not accept a man who did not possess a considerable personal fortune; Gatsby is forced to make his by whatever means neccessary. This is reflective of Fitzgerald's struggle to write a successful novel and make his own small fortune.
In Tender Is The Night, Fitzgerald examines the life of Dick Diver, and how his marriage to "a wealthy mental patient" slowly destroys it. (Portions of this summary were quotes, as I found Tender Is The Night unbearable.)
Zelda Sayre died in 1948 when a fire broke out at her current North Carolina hospital; Fitzgerald had been dead for eight years.