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Critical Analysis of “May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“May Day”, by F.scott Fitzgerald is a tale of America after the World War I. The author begins the tale with, “There had been a war fought and won …”The setting is in New York, USA in May 1919 which is evident from the references of Yale graduates, and Gordon’s telephonic conversation with Phil when he said, “I heard you were in New York.” The main protagonist, Gordon Sterrett, is a soldier who has recently got back from France after fighting the World War I as he narrated to his friend Phil, “I got back from France in February.” The story presents events happening in a span of twenty four hours. It begin with a festive mood and jubilation, “Never had there been such splendor in the great city…….,”but ends in disenchantment when Gordon’s call for help goes unanswered and he, “fires a cartridge into his head.”

Thesis statement

The title “May Day,” can said to be appropriate mainly because of four reasons as per the story. The entire story is a combination of events occurring on the 1st of May, the people are shown in a jubilant mood celebrating the onset of spring in the month of May, it is a gratification to the International Worker’s Day and the protagonist’s May Day call not being answered leading him to take the extreme step.

In my opinion the failure of Gordon Sterrett Mayday call is the most appropriate reason for the said title.

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AP 1. Claim Statement: The title “May Day “can be justified by the fact that the entire story is an amalgamation of events occurring on the 1st of May.

It begins at, “9o’clock on the morning of the first of May, 1919,” continues into the noon when Phil and Gordon, “lunched together en masse, warmed with liquor as the afternoon began.” “At four, to his relief, Dean rose,’’ He took Gordon for buying neck ties and “They left Rivers’ at five-thirty.” The setting then shifts to night. “About nine o’clock of the same night two human beings came out.”After loitering around when Rose and Key reach Delmonico’s where Key’s brother works as a waiter it is nearing midnight. “This room’s all set for a twelve o’clock banquet,” George says to these fellows when they want to wait for liquor in the dining room. “At one o’clock a special orchestra,” played. After the riot like situation at Henry’s office, “One of your own sojers got shoved out of the back window an’ killed hisself!” the story moves to the morning of May 2nd. “In the early morning of May the second it was unusually full.” “Beautiful morning,” Peter said to Dean. Elsewhere, “In a bedroom of a small hotel just off Sixth Avenue Gordon Sterrett awoke….” “He went out half an hour later and bought a revolver,” and killed himself.

AP 2. Claim Statement: “May Day, “can said to be the story of the celebration of the beginning of the spring season.

The story has been set in the month of May which marks the arrival of the spring season. As quoted by the narrator, “All through the long spring days the returning soldiers marched,” The merchants had flocked, “to buy for their women furs against the next winter,” clearly indicates the onset of the spring after the cold and deathly winter. Just as nature renews itself in May, so are people renewed and energized. “The young men returning were pure and brave,” “the young women of the land were virgins.” “I got back from France in February, went home to Harrisburg for a month, and then came down to New York,” was what Gordon told Dean clearly marks the end of winter season. More so the Gordon’s statement, “He raised the blind and let in a further flood of sunshine,” make us feel the onset of spring. May Day also coincides with the European holiday known as Pagan holiday which is a celebration of coming of spring. The characters in “May Day” are also in a joyous mood as mentioned by the author that there was, “such splendour in the great city,” “luscious feasts, “were spread and, “lavish entertainments,” were to be witnessed.

AP 3. Claim Statement: The title “May Day” can be an ode to the International Worker’s Day.

May Day also known as the International Worker’s Day or the Labour Day is celebrated all over the World on the 1st of May. The story begins at, “9o’clock on the morning of the first of May, 1919,” and culminates twenty four hours later which leads us believe that the author had the Worker’s Day in mind while choosing the title. During the course of events that happened in the story Key and Rose become a part of a crowd, “was composed of ragged civilians.” A riot like situation arises. “Are the soldiers all set against the Socialists?” is what Edith questions her brother to understand the situation in the city. Henry says to his sister Edith, “There’ve been riots all over the city tonight. It’s May Day, you see,” which links us to the Labour Day. When the crowd of soldiers barge into Henry’s office cries like, “—God damn Socialists!” “Pro-Germans! Boche-lovers!” can be heard. In the scuffle one soldier gets killed as announced by the policeman, “One of your own sojers got shoved out of the back window an’ killed hisself!”This all is a reminder of Workers struggle over the years.

AP 4. Claim Statement: The title can be attributed to the reason that “May Day” is an international distress call or call for help as was given by Gordon to Dean.

The most influential reason for the title, “May Day,” is the distress call given by Gordon to Dean so as to help him out of the situation he is in. The main protagonist of the story is Gordon Sterrett .He fought the World war and came to New York in search of job as is evident from his conversation with Dean. He said, “I got back from France in February, went home to Harrisburg for a month, and then came down to New York to get a job.” But he had, “absolutely gone to pieces. “He had , “made a hell of a mess of everything.” “I’m half crazy, Phil, “said Gordon and asked him, “to lend me three hundred dollars. “He wanted the money so that he could, “take a few weeks off and get started. “Dean considers Gordon, “bankrupt—morally as well as financially.” He takes Gordon out for lunch and shopping but decides, “I can’t lend you that money. “In the end when Gordon realises the situation he is in financially and also that, “he was irrevocably married to Jewel Hudson,” He “bought a revolver,” and, “fired a cartridge into his head. “So the story begins with Gordon’s call for help and ends with his Mayday call going in vain. Hence this is the most suitable reason for the title.

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Critical Analysis of “May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
“Critical Analysis of “May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
Critical Analysis of “May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Feb. 2023].
Critical Analysis of “May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2023 Feb 2]. Available from:
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