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What It Is To Be an American

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From the beginning, when America became independent from the England Empire in 1776, this great country has been making truly great Americans, whether if someone was African, White, Mexican or any race or ethnicity, America has welcomed them all with open arms. Young and old or wise and adventurous many people that have loved and lost have molded and shaped the America that is here today. During the readings of This Side of Paradise by Scott Fitzgerald, Armory, the lead character in the book, would distinguish himself as an American by the passion he had for his true love, to the patriotism that he had for his country, and acting upon his right to freedom of speech when he thought it was right. It will be known that Armory was a true American as anyone, even if his egotism got in his was, but it was his egotism and who he was as a person that made him into an American.

In the beginning Armory was not a saint, he loved life and definitely loved to live the life of luxury, since his family had money from the death of his father’s two brothers. He wanted to be, what they call today, the popular kid. He wanted people to like him and even love him, and that started his ever so delightful egotistic life style, but this would change when he met Rosalind. “Within two weeks Amory and Rosalind were deeply and passionately in love. The critical qualities which had spoiled for each of them a dozen romances were dulled by the great wave of emotion that washed over them.” (Fitzgerald) At this moment he was full of passion. This kind of passion can drive any person to do some crazing things for good, or can have the opposite effect and drive them mad. Armory was in love something that all men have or want to have. Unfortunately that was not the case for Armory. It was a disaster for him because Rosalind was driven from Armory because of her mother, stating that he was not good for her. This was manly the fact that he had not money.

That money from previous, was gone because of some poor investments on his families part and therefore was not seen to be able to support Rosalind. This left Armory heart-broken and he would never be the same again, and would judge all other women that would come into his life and compare them to Rosalind. He would do this because he thought that there was hope for them, that they would come back together until this moment. “Then he started, and his fingers trembled, for directly above was a longer paragraph of which the first words were: “Mr. and Mrs. Leland R. Connage are announcing the engagement of their daughter, Rosalind, to Mr. J. Dawson Ryder, of Hartford, Connecticut” He dropped the paper and lay down on his bed with a frightened, sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach. She was gone, definitely, finally gone.” (Fitzgerald) “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” (Nietzsche) This quote has been heard many times, by most Americans, at least once or twice. It is a quote that has inspired people to get through the difficult times in life. Either from a lost love or a battlefield in which the whole world could end in a second that quote can be felt and empower someone through a really tough time. Even in a time a war in which Armory would show his patriotism by joining the military to fight in WWI.

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” (Kennedy) Even though Armory’s young life was not around the time of President John F. Kennedy, he still enlisted in a time of war. Armory’s best friend Burne choose not to support the war but his brother, Kerry, did, which shows that not everyone is cut out to be a warrior. Going to war doesn’t mean that you are patriotic but supporting the troops that defend America is. Even when Armory, “thought how much easier patriotism had been to a homogeneous race, how much easier it would have been to fight as the Colonies fought, or as the Confederacy fought. And he did no sleeping that night, but listened to the aliens guffaw and snore while they filled the car with the heavy scent of latest America.

In Princeton every one bantered in public and told themselves privately that their deaths at least would be heroic.” (Fitzgerald) Armory was definitely not a warrior by any means, more like a lover and not a fighter kind of guy. At least Armory joined as an officer, instead of an enlisted person, because during that was a lot of enlisted died and not as many officers, so at least he had a fight chance to survive. War can change a man, and it sure did for Armory and that is when he met Rosalind. Love and lost a lot, but not down yet Armory reflected his entire life. He voiced his opinion and made it known what he was feeling not matter who was around or who he was talking to, and that can all stem from one of America greatest, and most used Amendment, Freedom of Speech.

Now Armory was not a huge motivation speaker as the great Martin Luther King Jr. or the enthusiastic Malcolm X, but he did voice his opinions, one that stuck out was the one conversation that he had with a man at Princeton, towards Armory’s older years. “Here now,” said the big man, “you’ll have to admit that the laboring man is certainly highly paid five and six hour day sit’s ridiculous. You can’t buy an honest day’s work from a man in the trades-unions.” “You’ve brought it on yourselves,” insisted Amory. “You people never make concessions until they’re wrung out of you.” “What people?” “Your class; the class I belonged to until recently; those who by inheritance or industry or brains or dishonesty have become the moneyed class.” (Fitzgerald) This argument was about how good the wealthy people have it in life. How Armory used to be a wealthy man and now he is a poor man. How Armory must suffer now living as a poor man while he watches the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer.

It is the first time that Armory actually sees how his life is and the choices that he had made to get him there. The big man stands his ground and disagrees, stating that it is not his fault. Armory does not have it because he says that he, the big man, is a part of the capitalist community and would never change the way he is because the system works and the big man would never feel the kind of pain and suffering as a poor man has. Speaking out for what you believe in is a great aspect that so many people enjoy about being an American. Saying what you feel has inspired the American Spirit for many years to come. Freedom of Speech isn’t just saying what you want, but expressing the values in which a person can hold so dear. Armory was one of those American Spirits and it shows through the entire book. In closing, there have been Americans that have given their lives for this great country, and who would be considered Great Americans. There will always be those people that are remembered for the great things that they did as Americans. Armory may not be one of those men, but he definitely has the American Spirit in him. He showed that passion, patriotism and the act of freedom of speech are only a few attributes in which make up what the American is.

Works Cited:

Fitzgerald, Scott. This Side of Paradise. Literature Project. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. Nietzsche, Friedrich. Brainy Quote. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.
Kennedy, John F. Brainy Quote. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

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