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#136 ~ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Before the movie hype, I’d never heard of this short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I’m not necessarily sure that I knew that he wrote short stories.  With the exception of The Great Gatsby, which is one of my all-time favorite novels, I never studied Fitzgerald in college or grad school.  I’m not sure if this was because of the courses I chose or if his writing wasn’t in favor at the time.  Either way, I’m planning on reading all of his short stories this year.

For those of you who do not know, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” tells the story of life of Benjamin Button.  Unlike all other humans, he was born as an elderly man, not as an infant.  The doctors, nurses, and his father are all shocked and quite disgusted by this.  Benjamin being only himself, found nothing out of the ordinary in his condition.  The unlikely circumstances of his birth continued on throughout his life.  He continued to grow more youthful as his life progressed.  He did not age.  He did just the opposite, though only those who knew otherwise seemed to be aware of his condition at all.

What stood out the most for me was that his mother was no where to be seen.  We witnessed his father’s reactions throughout his “growing up” years, but we hear nothing from the woman who gave birth to him.  She survived the birth, but how was that accomplished without killing her?  Did she love him despite his oddity?  Are we to assume by the fact that she was removed from the text that she abandoned him emotionally?  If so, how does Benjamin feel about this?  Did it not concern him because one’s mother is typically deceased when one is an elderly man or is that why Benjamin hides the truth from his wife?

Being only 30 pages, this short story was a quick read, although I’m not sure whether I can say I liked it or not.   I would be interested in reading papers published on this short story.  I believe it did highlight the responsibilities that surround raising children and caring for the elderly in a different way.  When you are a new parent, you can ask for other people’s advice, but you still are in many ways on your own.  No one else has ever raised your child.  On the other side of the coin, elderly care is also a question.  While many people do what is right by there parents, aren’t those who don’t just as irresponsible as those who might abandon a newborn?  It’s all the same for Benjamin.

*****

To buy this short story, click here.


3 Comments

  • At 2009.01.19 14:47, bermudaonion said:

    I wondered about his mother the whole time I was reading this story too. The movie is very loosely based on this story.

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    • At 2009.01.19 18:06, Ti said:

      I haven’t read the story but I never thought about the mother and how she would ever survive such a birth before you mentioned it here. Now that makes me wonder about her too.

      • At 2009.01.20 01:52, Michele said:

        Gosh, I’m glad you reviewed this. I was starting to think that I was the ONLY person on earth that didn’t know this was a Fitzgerald s.s.!

        I fully intend to read it this coming week, but I liked your review. 🙂

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