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Portrayal of the Traditions of the May Day in the Story Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Analytical Essay

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The Story “May Day” written by F. Scott Fitzgerald starts with a prologue which sounds much more like a fairytale rather that what it actually is (real story). As everyone is happy and enjoying as the war has ended, but the reality is exactly opposite. The whole story revolves around the protagonist of the story which is Gordon Sterrett and how his role transforms in the whole story. This story mainly talks about the war and the riots even after the end of World War 1 in America. The story is also about how helpless the two soldiers Carol Key and Gus Rose are. The setting of the story starts in joy and love in the New York City as the soldiers had just returned from the World War 1 and then moves to a more chaotic scenario of the riots of 1919 in America. May Day refers both to a private dance held by the privileged people on May 1, 1919 and the protests held by socialists and those who came back from World War I. This is a story with no winner and no happy ending. In the story everyone is celebrating this holiday by going to different places. Phillip Dean in the story is on a vacation and is enjoying this holiday. On the same day as the May Day which is the 1st day of the month May, Ancient Pagan Day is also celebrated in which people socialize, dance and love each other which we can relate to Edith as she is celebrating her day in a very similar way. But many soldiers don’t see May Day as a normal holiday, they see it as a celebration day which we can relate to Carol Key and Gus Rose who both are soldiers and are celebrating the day by drinking alcohol after the end of the World War 1. When everyone is celebrating, on the other hand Carol and Gus are very stressed and worried rather than enjoying just because of money. They remain stressed throughout the story. We can relate them asking for help with the day May Day as it is referred as an emergency call. Also, in French Maidez means “help me”, which sounds exactly like gordon who is asking for hep throughout the story. Meaning of “May Day” gives us a sharp and crisp description of how different people live in America after the end of World War 1 and also gives us a depth insight of reality of their harsh life and riots in the country even after the war was over.

Gordon who is the protagonist of the story is having a very rough May Day throughout the story and is making a distress call for help again and again. Despite the fact, Gordon who is a graduate from Yale University which is a very reputed and a known university in America is asking for money and help throughout the story. He approaches his friend Phil Dean and asks for money but as soon as he asks for money, Phil gets annoyed and says that “You seem to be sort of bankrupt -morally as well as financially (14). Even Gordon is so frustrated about his situation that he himself claims that “I admit I’m depressing” (14). At the Gamma Psi Dance when everyone was enjoying themselves, but Gordon was drunk and sitting at the stairs and had kept his head down as he was stressed about the money that he has to give to Jewel Hudson. Edith who is Gordon’s ex-girlfriend approached him. After seeing his condition at the dance she changed her mind and she also told him that “you look like the devil” (45) and her love for him started to diminish as he talked to her. Gordon uses hell and sometimes demon to describe his situation in the story like he said “it’ll be hell for me” (15). Gordon in the whole story is criticised a lot even when he had participated in the World War and helped bringing peace. He should have been respected as he was a soldier but rather he was looked down like Phil Dean and Edith. The story also uses the Riots held on the May Day of 1919 as a past bad experience to give a description of the American Class society. The Riots were a part of the emergence of the fear of Communist infiltration which was to shadow the new few decades of American Society.

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Edith Bardin who is the ex-girlfriend of Gordon celebrated May Day in a very similar way to the Ancient Pagan Day which is a festival of dancing, singing and love. At the Gamma Psi dance she was with Peter but Gordon was still in her mind. She enjoyed the Gamma Psi Dance as she kissed someone at the dance “she was complimented by six people and also she kissed a person” (57). Later in the story she met her brother Henry Bardin who had a newspaper company in New York. Later in the story they were attacked by the Socialists caused riots in the New York City on the day of May Day. In these attacks his brother Henry Bardin broke his leg. In the story we see that rich and high class American people like Edith had a great May Day and enjoyed it to the fullest at the Gamma Psi Dance. Just because she belonged to a high class she was treated well and was helped whenever she wanted.

Carol Key and Gus Rose the two soldiers who participated in the World War didn’t looked at May Day as a normal holiday but as a celebration after war, but as they were soldiers and belonged to a low class American society their May Day didn’t went quiet well. Both of them were not this irresponsible and alcoholics back home but after all the stress and after having no money they took the wrong path and they changed themselves in a bad way. As they were trying to celebrate the day as it was the first holiday after the Great World War they were trying to get liquor in order to celebrate the day, but they were not able to get the liquor as the government passed a law that “forbidding the selling of liquor to soldiers” (26). These both soldiers are considered poor as “their combines finances were something less than five dollars” (27). Even though they were soldiers and were the people who helped bring peace by participating and risking their life in the World War but the people who belonged to the high-class American lifestyle like Edith treated both of them as dogs. People who were rich enough they bought themselves out of the war and were enjoying and continued their rich lifestyle and lived a lavish life but the people who were poor had to participate in the war and were looked down by the high-class Americans and were not given any respect by them. The May Day of the two soldiers didn’t went quiet well as they were drunk throughout the day and they had a little money on them and they were looked down by the other high-class American people and one of them ended up getting dead.

Phil Dean who was a Yale graduate and a friend of Gordon Sterrett who spent his May Day holiday as a vacation as he travelled from the east coast to all the way to New York City and was staying at the Biltmore Hotel which is a quiet lavish hotel. He was quite rich as he was on a vacation and had so many “silk neckties and shirts” (8). He often used words like God or heaven unlike Gordon in his sentences like “Oh, for heaven’s sake” (16). Despite the fact he had so many silk shirts still he went to buy more before going to the Gamma Psi Dance and he also spared eighty bucks to Gordon as he was in a desperate need of money and was threatened by a woman Jewel hudson. He didn’t have so much value for money as “He took a five-dollar bill from his wallet and tossed it to Gordon” (16) as he had plenty of money on his account. He was also in a jovial mood before going to the party and took a new haircut and took a massage before going to the Gamma Psi Dance. Even at the Gamma Psi Dance he was well dressed and was in a joyful mood he had a good time and spend his day like a holiday. With Peter he also made a lot of jokes like they pretended to be Mr. In and Mr. Out and they were drinking champagne in the morning with breakfast and were laughing on the silliest things like they would keep repeating a word and laugh about it repeatedly like “liquor and breakfast” (87) and “Mortifying” 88). They even got into a fight together and got kicked out at Delmonico. In general Phil Dean had a good May Day and spent it like a holiday as he is a High-Class American he had no issues, people didn’t judge him on the basis of his acts or how drunk he was throughout the story, unlike Gordon who was victimised and looked down by the other people on the basis of his actions. Phil Dean

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Portrayal of the Traditions of the May Day in the Story Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Analytical Essay. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
“Portrayal of the Traditions of the May Day in the Story Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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