F. Scott Fitzgerald’s early twentieth century classic showcases several elements of literary art. The tale of romance and longing of the protagonist Amory Blaine is at once charming, poignant and rich in social comment.
In terms of literary elements, the novel is a bildungsroman, for being an exposition on the process of growing up. Not much emphasis is given to the childhood and adolescent years of Amory Blaine. However, the few years of his young adult life that is depicted is a process of maturation and coming of age. Through his romantic aspirations, with its attendant failures and successes, Blaine goes from boy to man.
In terms of style, Fitzgerald employs a restrained manner of expression. Though the romantic genre gives license for poetic and flowery language, Fitzgerald is shy of using it. Writing the novel in his early twenties, this shows tremendous literary maturity. In this sense, the novel itself can be reflexively seen as the bindungsroman of the creative author and his authorship. It is only fitting that Fitzgerald’s personal life during that period paralleled the travails of Blaine. This is best captured in the first section of the book entitled Romantic Egoist.
Finally, Fitzgerald adopts the social-realist method for exposing his art. The 1920s were an uncertain period in American history, as the nation looked for new directions in the aftermath of the war. This Side of Paradise reflects this element of confusion. At the same time, the novel, by embracing and celebrating romantic love, is an optimistic statement on the prospects for the nation. So, the work is quite rich in its social comment.