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Lillie Ann Dawson

on 2 August 2013

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"The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" Written by: F. Scott Fitzgerald Figures of Destruction Themes The themes of "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" are selfishness, and humility. Each characteristic plays a significant part of the story .
First of all, there is the theme of selfishness. The theme of selfishness is demonstrated by the Washington's, and especially Mr. Washington. Though it may be said that this selfishness was because his ancestor discovered this fortune, it is still no excuse for such rotten behavior! Percy's dad Mr. Washington said, in regards to the men he captured and put into a pit after they discovered the diamond mine, "Your own curiosity got you here, and at any time you can think of a way out that protects me and my interests I'll be glad to consider it." Notice the words he uses are "me" and "my". He was saying here that these men who wandered into the diamond mine would never come out unless they had a plan to support him and him alone...nothing about their families (unless they wanted him to bring them to the pit). This was a definite show of selfishness. It must be understood that Mr. Washington loves his diamond mine, but the correct response would not be to harbor it all for yourself. This results in his unhappiness just like when the Italian captive escapes and returns with airplanes to bomb the palace. He ends up destroying the whole palace. It is better to have a small amount and share it with others than to lose it all in the end. He was willing to destroy everything including himself, his family, and his fortune simply so that no one else could get at it. This selfishness caused the cold spirit in him that even John noticed early on in the story.It was the seed for the growth of deception, lies,and even murder that he was willing to do to protect his stuff.
This theme goes pronounced even in the seemingly innocent young character Kismine. "But Percy and Kismine seemed to have inherited the arrogant attitude in all its harsh magnificence from their father. A chaste and consistent selfishness ran like a pattern through their every idea." Kismine seemed like such a gentle delicate figure, but underneath she was spoiled and selfishness was apparent as she said, "I shall probably have visitors too--I'll harden up to it. We can't let an inevitable thing as death stand in the way of enjoying life while we have it." In this sentence Kismine was talking about murdering people after they visited there since they should not be able to tell anyone about their secret place. She admitted that she was finding it easier each time to kill in order to protect her possessions that in the end were limited to only worthless rhinestones. Fitzgerald's Style of Writing: The best audience for this short story is an audience that appreciates details, vivacious colors, resplendent adjectives, and extraordinary depth and meaning to stories. Why? Because this short story has it all and then some! It also has its share of romance, but Fitzgerald writes in a way that doesn't have too much and it doesn't have too little. Its great for almost any book lover. Even if someone is not, it has enough adventure, plot twists, murder, greed, love, tragedy, and even a little humor to keep you on your toes and thumbing through the pages. Its great for anyone who has the time to sit down and read it because it is so good that you will probably read it in one sitting! This story can satisfy all audiences and I would recommend it to anyone because it has just enough of everything to suit anybody. I would like to conclude with what I think about this short story. I noticed a lot of symbolism and meaning intertwined throughout his tale, and I think that this book teaches good life lessons about greed, selfishness, pride, and humility. I think that the mysterious undertone to this story adds a great deal of interest. For example, Fitzgerald writes in the beginning about the motto of Hades and says that it is depressing, but he never tells you what the motto is. This creates room for your interpretation, yet at the same time you wonder if he actually tells you with all of the symbolism going on in the tale. It also has mystery in the character Kismine, because she never reveals the murder to come, and when the truth is out you wonder how she was able to act so innocent. It is also mysterious how she "accidently" picked up rhinestones instead of diamonds. I thought that this story satisfies the human want for the lap of luxury by using expressive details, yet it also makes you second guess your reasoning for fortune as you learn of the final outcome of the family. This story made me really think about being satisfied with what I have. Thus, the story, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" relays mystery, themes of humility, selfishness, and deception, and is the pinnacle of great writing to be able to combine this into a flowing romantic tale of tragedy. "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" is a romantic tale of tragedy involving a young bachelor who falls in love with a pale-skinned, blue-eyed beautiful girl of 16 at the Washington's home located on a dazzling diamond mine. They have kept the diamond mine a secret for centuries. The author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, wrote this thrilling tale in an intriguing and twisted way, filled throughout with mystery, murder, lies, and DETAILS that can be shown through his style of writing. To give you a better perspective on his style and his themes, let's start at the beginning with a summary of the gripping story! Summary: "My father has a diamond bigger than the Ritz Carlton Hotel." Percy said this to his friend John T. Unger while they traveled by train to Percy's house for the summer. John T. Unger had been at St. Midas' School near Boston for a little over two years when a friend, Percy Washington, invited him to spend the summer at his home "in the West." John, as Percy knew, lived in a small city near the Mississippi River called Hades (of which he was often teased), but of Percy's home, John was oblivious. He arrived at the home in northern Montana (to which John dubbed a palace due to its plenteous supply of diamonds and jewels) after a ride in a luxurious limousine soused with jewel-encrusted arm rests and gold-threaded seats. The next morning upon arrival, he was told how this wondrous mansion, which turned out to be built on a diamond mine, came to pass: A Mr. Washington, many centuries ago, had discovered the largest diamond mine in the world. After claiming this land as his own, he set out to conceal his fortune among which was a 1 cubic mile diamond! Mr. Washington covered the diamond with moss and grass, disguising it as a mountain to keep his find a secret. After he had passed on his house to his descendents, they all took on the role of concealing their ancestor's fortune by tampering with the government's maps and making the property into a large magnetic field to confuse travelers, especially those traveling with compasses. This had worked for centuries, but now years later, as the home was passed down to Percy's family, their only fear was airplanes discovering that which they had tried so hard to conceal.... So began John's stay at the Washington's home by learning the history of the mansion in which he would be staying in for the summer. The luxuries at this place were infinite, and the rooms so bedazzled by jewels that made even John swoon. John thought he was completely satisfied until one day as he was wandering through the lush gardens of the palace he met a girl named Kismine, who was Percy's sister, a girl of dazzling beauty and innocent character. At that moment he fell in love with her and knew that he was completely satisfied. He began seeing her every day. He felt to himself that she was the pinnacle of beauty with blue sapphire slivers all twisted into her hair. After only a few days they realized that they yearned to be married (though the Washington's disapproved). Their lives were perfect....or so John thought. Humility Conclusion: These characters that emitted an outlook on life on a "me only" point of view showed the importance of humility they demonstrate through their selfish actions. The importance of humility can really be seen when Mr. Washington offers a bribe to God. He tries to lure in God with "his" stuff to have life go the way he wants it. God knew that Mr. Washington's spirit was filled with only the love for money. From a biblical perspective, it reminisces the young man in the Bible whom Jesus told to sell all of his stuff and follow him. Like this youth, the Washington's could not do it and it resulted in the sad outcome of death and destruction that is inevitable if you put your hope in material things.
The character John portrays humility. All throughout the story he states that in his home town it is considered priggish and wicked to think like the Washington's did about money.
Therefore, the themes of selfishness and humility are pronounced all throughout the short story with the characters of Mr. Washington, Kismine, and John My Recommendation: Introduction The style that the author of this short story uses can be shown through the details he uses. This is Fitzgerald's style of writing. He turns a "could be boring" story into a thrilling masterpiece by simply adding details that other writers may simply ignore. That is what makes this author so special and his works so easy to read. There are many examples of this masterful details, but the most profound are the ones he uses on the Washington's home:

"Afterward John remembered that first night as a daze of many colors, of quick sensory impressions, of music soft as a voice in love, and of the beauty of things, lights and shadows, and motions and faces. There was a white-haired man who stood drinking a many-hued cordial from a crystal thimble set on a golden stem. There was a girl with a flowery face, dressed like Titania with braided sapphires in her hair. There was a room where the solid, soft gold of the walls yielded to the pressure of his hand, and a room that was like a platonic conception of the ultimate prism--ceiling, floor, and all, it was lined with an unbroken mass of diamonds, diamonds of every size and shape, until, lit with tall violet lamps in the corners, it dazzled the eyes with a whiteness that could be compared only with itself, beyond human wish or dream.

Through a maze of these rooms the two boys wandered. Sometimes the floor under their feet would flame in brilliant patterns from lighting below, patterns of barbaric clashing colors, of pastel delicacy, of sheer whiteness, or of subtle and intricate mosaic, surely from some mosque on the Adriatic Sea. Sometimes beneath layers of thick crystal he would see blue or green water swirling, inhabited by vivid fish and growths of rainbow foliage. Then they would be treading on furs of every texture and color or along corridors of palest ivory, unbroken as though carved complete from the gigantic tusks of dinosaurs extinct before the age of man. . . .

Then a hazily remembered transition, and they were at dinner--where each plate was of two almost imperceptible layers of solid diamond between which was curiously worked a filigree of emerald design, a shaving sliced from green air. Music, plangent and unobtrusive, drifted down through far corridors--his chair, feathered and curved insidiously to his back, seemed to engulf and overpower him as he drank his first glass of port. He tried drowsily to answer a question that had been asked him, but the honeyed luxury that clasped his body added to the illusion of sleep--jewels, fabrics, wines, and metals blurred before his eyes into a sweet mist. . . . "

These exquisite details not only make Fitzgerald beautifully detailed to read, but they make him a unique author.
Climax: The two lovers continued to meet secretly in the gardens and discussed their marriage. Then one day as John and Kismine were talking, Kismine reveals that her family had been inviting guests over to their palace that never made it out alive after finding out about the diamond. Kismine said, ''Father took no chances." John's heart was burdened by the fact that he too was a guest and questioned a very uncomfortable Kismine. Was he to become like other guests and die? How was this possible? Didn't Kismine love him? These questions raced through his mind as Kismine wept. She added to John's growing horror by saying that he was to be terminated. She said, "I'm honestly sorry you're going to --going to be put away--though I'd rather you be put away then kiss another girl." He becomes furious and refuses to remain engaged to her, but soon realizes that she is his only way of survival.... The End: Kismine makes John fall desperately in love with her again by promising to follow him into his dangers. Then from that point on they decide to elope. On the night that they were to elope, John is awoken by a sound in the air of airplanes. The pilots of the airplanes begin to bomb and shoot at the palace, and Mr. Washington, fearing for his treasure, panics. Meanwhile, John instructs Kismine to fill her pockets with diamond and he leads Kismine and her sister Jasmine out to safety. While out in their safe area, they see Mr. Washington's slaves lift something huge and glittering to the sky. It was a diamond. Mr. Washington was going to offer a bribe to God. He offers his diamond to God in exchange that God swallow up the airplanes and the men in it. God refuses, and as the threesome watch in horror, Mr. Washington, his wife, and Percy sacrifice themselves by blowing up themselves with the palace, jewels, and fortune to dust and the airplanes and men who had landed on the ground with it. John asks to see Kismine's diamonds so that they could live comfortably, but when she emptied her pockets, there were only rhinestones, since she had mistakenly grabbed the wrong drawer's components and they were forced to go and live in Hades with John's parents. Presented by Lillie Ann Dawson Symbolism: "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" is not only flourishing with vivid details, and suspense, but it is overflowing with symbolism of its characters Kismine, Mr. Washington, and John that symbolize deception, fortune, and poverty. These characters are perfect examples of many aspects of the themes in the story that help to paint a clearer picture of the story in the readers mind. Fitzgerald's unique style of writing allows him to express their symbolism by creating unique names for them and revealing it through their actions.
The first character is Kismine, Mr. Washington's daughter who represents deception. The first symbolism is in her name. Kismine's name sounds so much like "kiss me". She herself reveals that in the story by saying, "'Did you say Kismine'?' she asked softly softly, 'or----'" when asking if John had asked to kiss her. This portrays a lot about her character. John is lured into falling in love with her with her exquisite beauty that would eventually lead to his death if he had not pulled the truth from her. She also represents this by referring to herself as unsophisticated. She says, "'Oh, no, I'm not,' she exclaimed hurriedly. 'Oh I wouldn't think of being. I think sophisticated young people are terribly common, don't you? I'm not at all, really. If you say I am, I'm going to cry.'" This shows that she is child-like in a way and innocent. This is the best way to deceive....to pretend to be what you are not. It happens everyday. This was the case with Kismine. She was deceiving John to think of her as a friend and as a innocent young girl who could do no harm meanwhile his murder was being planned. The deception was very evident as he never caught on until she accidentally spilled the beans. Even after that, she was cunning enough to make John fall back in love with her so that he would not be killed, however it may not be known if that was still the evident plan in her mind or not. Her name Kismine symbolized her coming actions of deceiving John into falling in love with her while his murder is planned.
The next character was the man Mr. Washington who symbolizes fortune in this short story. With material fortune, such as Mr. Washington's 1 cubic mile diamond, often times comes with success, and as many people know success often drives the person to feel powerful. With more material possessions than other people, this power goes to the extent of looking down on those less fortunate instead of helping them. This was he case with Mr. Washington. The author of this work reveals to us that Mr. Washington was in fact related to George Washington. This symbolized the power Mr. Washington had over the people coming in and out of his property just as President Washington had power over America. His name symbolized his mindset...success and power.
The last character is John who symbolizes poverty. This poverty is established in the very beginning when he says, "The simple piety prevalent in Hades has the earnest worship of and respect for riches as the first article of its creed--had John felt otherwise than radiantly humbled before them, his parents would have turned away in horror at the blasphemy." This poverty that John had lived in served him well throughout the story as he was appreciative for the things around him unlike the Washington family who took for granted everything they had. This, in a biblical perspective also made sense as John means "God is gracious". This was evident as when God protected him from his death by refusing Mr. Washington's bribe and saving John from destruction.
In conclusion, the symbolism from "The Diamond as big as the Ritz" plays an important part in developing the characters and how they react with each other. Fitzgerald creates an awesome chemistry with his characters by using the perfect names and locations. It adds so much more to the story. The reader is able to be enveloped into the imagination of F. Scott Fitzgerald, yet at the same time see how the circumstances of the characters can be applied everyday. The Analysis of the Story:
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