The Bridal Party by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Author: Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Published: The Saturday Evening Post (Aug 9, 1930)
Genre: Short Stories
“The Bridal Party” is a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1930 and published in The Saturday Evening Post in the same year. As its title suggests, the story is about the events of a bridal party and the drama that transpires. Set toward the end of the Jazz Age, “The Bridal Party” follows the lives of the wealthy Americans who escaped to Paris with their wealth unscathed by the Wall Street crash of 1929.
In “The Bridal Party,” Michael or ‘Mike’ Curly has been dealt a painful blow: He’s invited to the bridal party of the girl he loves, Caroline Dandy. Caroline had left Mike years ago due to his poor financial standing, leaving him heartbroken. As luck would have it, Mike inherits his grandfather’s fortune, giving him a new idea: win Caroline back with his wealth. What ensues is a humorous and dramatic tale by Fitzgerald.
2. Story Summary
2.1. The Invitation
Mike Curly is in Normandy when he receives news that his former lover, Caroline Dandy, will be wed to another man in Paris. A devastated Mike reveals that their separation is due to his poor finances and inability to provide for her. Mike has been unable to forget Caroline and has not been in any other relationships after she left him.
While Mike is shopping one day, he runs into Caroline and her soon-to-be husband, Hamilton Rutherford. Hamilton extends an invitation to Mike for the events leading up to his and Caroline’s wedding. Seeing Caroline again leaves Mike even more heartbroken and depressed. However, a telegram soon arrives telling Mike that his grandfather has passed away and he has been willed a large sum of money. The elated Mike soon begins to plan how he can use his wealth to win Caroline back.
When Mike attends one of the parties, he realizes he does not fit in with Caroline’s social circle. He shares a dance with Caroline but chickens out of telling her about his newfound wealth. She encourages him to find happiness just as she has found her own, telling him that she chose Hamilton for his decisiveness. Mike cannot accept reality and asks to meet Hamilton outside to thrash things out. As Mike reaches the destination, he overhears Hamilton making misogynistic remarks about women, and this angers Mike, who attacks Hamilton. Hamilton hits Mike, telling him to toughen up, and leaves.
At the next gathering, Mike turns up in expensive attire, which he bought with his wealth. Soon, a woman known as Marjorie Collins shows up at the party and causes a stir, demanding to see Hamilton. Mike uses the distraction to leave and look for Caroline. Mike confesses his love for Coraline, saying he cannot forget her, and tells her about his wealth and how he can provide for her now. However, this does not sway Caroline; she simply congratulates him, telling him that she has always felt he deserves his wealth.
2.4. Moving on
Hamilton soon arrives and reveals that Marjorie attempted to blackmail him a while back, and she has also delivered a telegram. The telegram message told Hamilton he had lost his wealth, and it was due to a mistake he made. Mike expects Caroline to leave Hamilton for him upon learning this, but she does not. The wedding ceremony proceeds as planned, where Mike’s acquaintance reveals to him that someone had offered Hamilton a well-paying job after hearing of his predicament. Mike expects to feel bitter, but he does not, realizing that he has finally moved on.
Michael ‘Mike’ Curly
The protagonist of “The Bridal Party,” Mike, is enamored by Caroline and is initially unable to get over her. However, as the days draw nearer to the wedding ceremony, Mike learns how to let go and grow as a person instead of feeling sorry for himself.
Caroline is Mike’s love interest, and she desires someone who can offer stability. She is based on Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda Sayre. When Fitzgerald was a penniless soldier and writer, he courted Sayre. However, like Coraline, Sayre refused to marry Fitzgerald because he lacked financial stability.
4. Writing Style
To emphasize the emotions of his characters, especially Mike’s, Fitzgerald leaned toward using absolutes and modals when he addressed their feelings and thoughts. This writing style allows readers to truly see the growth and change in Mike throughout the bridal parties.
In terms of content, this is the first of Fitzgerald’s stories that address the Wall Street crash. As always with Fitzgerald’s stories, love and money are at odds, and the protagonist is often unable to succeed in both simultaneously. “The Bridal Party” is no different, and we see how Mike’s social class and financial status prevent him from getting the girl he desires.
5. Quotes from The Bridal Party
“Let me tell you just once more how well I’ve loved you, never wavering for a moment, never thinking of another girl. And now when I think of all the years ahead without you, without any hope, I don’t want to live”Michael Curly
“What I want to know is, what happens to people like me who aren’t able to forget?”Michael Curly
6. Frequently Asked Questions about The Bridal Party
How does Michael react when he hears about Caroline’s engagement?
Michael is devastated to the point that he does not think he can be happy anymore. However, when he comes to know about his inheritance, he quickly thinks about using it to win Caroline’s heart again.