Family In The Wind by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Author: Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Published: The Saturday Evening Post (June 4, 1932)
Genre: Short Story
1. Family In The Wind Synopsis
“Family In The Wind” follows Dr. Forrest Janney as he navigates personal struggles, family conflicts, and the aftermath of destructive tornadoes in Alabama. Battling alcoholism, the doctor grapples with his role in the community and the tragedies that unfold due to his actions.
The narrative weaves together multiple perspectives, including Butch Janney’s harrowing experience during a tornado, the doctor’s efforts to aid storm victims, and his decision to leave town. Themes of responsibility, guilt, and redemption emerge as characters confront the consequences of their choices and face the unpredictable forces of nature. The story explores human resilience in the face of disaster and the transformative impact of confronting one’s past.
2. Family In The Wind Summary
Dr. Forrest Janney and his brother Gene are driving together. The doctor, under the influence, discusses his altered perception when sober and jokes about his choices in life. Gene is anxious to talk about Pinky, who was shot and needs an operation. The doctor suggests other doctors who might help, but Gene pleads for him to operate. The doctor declines, claiming his decisions aren’t reliable due to his reputation as a drunkard.
They return to Gene’s house where Rose, Gene’s wife, becomes emotional, blaming the doctor for Mary Decker’s death. The doctor leaves, but Butch, Gene’s son, confronts him angrily for upsetting his mother. He warns the doctor to help Pinky or face his wrath. The doctor contemplates the turmoil caused by his actions and the impending storm.
Butch Janney observes a massive tornado approaching, seeks shelter, and endures its violent force. He lands in a tree and emerges injured. The landscape is transformed by the tornado’s path. He searches for his family but finds only destruction. Later, Dr. Janney arrives in town with injured victims from the storm. He teams up with other doctors and local volunteers to treat the wounded. The hospital fills with injured, and the doctor works tirelessly. The injured are evacuated, but the doctor continues. He tends to his family and prepares to address Pinky’s injuries.
The doctor surveys the tornado’s aftermath, focusing on relief efforts after stepping back from emergency work due to his pharmacist status. He follows the tornado’s path of destruction, seeing the havoc it caused. He encounters survivors, listens to stories, and observes the damage. He meets a girl named Helen Kilrain, who lost her family home. The doctor senses unease and contemplates leaving the area for good. While driving with Butch Janney, another tornado approaches, but they take cover under a bridge, ultimately escaping the worst of it. The experience is unnerving, leading to a mix of emotions.
After a second tornado strikes Alabama, causing damage but no fatalities, the community begins rebuilding. Doctor Janney decides to leave, selling his drug store and house. He stops by the homes of friends and family to say goodbye. He visits Gene Janney’s family, gives them money, and bids farewell. He reflects on the maternal instinct that influenced Rose’s behavior.
As he leaves by train, he contemplates his journey ahead, and with a newfound sense of responsibility, he considers taking care of Helen Kilrain, a girl who lost her family. He puts aside his flask and envisions caring for the cat. He dozes on the train, haunted by a dream of Helen’s words, determined to protect her from the storms of life.
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