The Spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald
by Danielle Ranucci ’23
I saw the green light, and I couldn’t help reaching towards it. Then I woke up and found myself in my dorm at Princeton University, located right near the iconic Blair Arch.
F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in the arch while he was at Princeton.
To think that I walk past Blair Arch every day. To think that I just sang with an a capella group there tonight. And to think that my dorm is right near there.
To think that I likely stumble upon his spirit as it prowls around campus. We collide, and yet we don’t. He drifts through me, shoots me a slight grin over his ghostly shoulder, and continues marching to the invisible sound of a drum. He’s pretending to be a soldier. You see, when he attended Princeton, everyone was at risk of being drafted into the First World War.
Of course, Fitz didn’t really want to be a soldier. He wanted to write. At Princeton, to write required him to fail in “algebra, trigonometry, coordinate geometry and hygiene,” according to him.
Even failing all of that, he still succeeded in gaining access to an eating club (Cottage) and deriving inspiration from its raucous parties, whose spirit would be channeled into the famous parties held in his novel, “The Great Gatsby.” He even set his first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” on Princeton’s campus.
Despite his literary success, there was one major thing Fitzgerald failed to do during his lifetime, and that was to graduate from Princeton. The war caught up to him, and he was forced to join the army.
No problem. The Class of 2017 gave him an honorary degree. At the ceremony, Fitzgerald’s ghost tried to grasp the diploma, but his hand passed through it. Nevertheless, his eyes lit up, and he mouthed the words, “Thank you” as his granddaughter grasped the diploma for him.
I went to sleep and again dreamed of the green light, which Gatsby forever sought as a symbol of his hopes and dreams of the future. I dreamed of Fitzgerald’s bones, resting dormant in some grave. And I dreamed of his spirit, smiling at twenty-first-century strangers and wandering eternally through a ghostly side of Paradise.