The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Author: Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Published: Collier’s (May 27, 1922), Tales of the Jazz Age (1922)
Genre: Short Story
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, with cover illustrations by James Montgomery Flagg. It was initially printed in Collier’s magazine on May 27, 1922. Following that, Fitzgerald included it in his 1922 book Tales of the Jazz Age, which is periodically reprinted as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories. In 2008, a movie adaptation of the novel was released.
Benjamin Button was born with the wrinkled face of an elderly man in 1860. As he grows, he begins to age backward mentally and physically.
2. Story Summary
2.1. Aging in Reverse
In 1860 Baltimore, Benjamin Button was born like any regular baby, except that he has the features of a 70-year-old man who can talk. Attending school and interacting with other children is challenging as his intellect exceeds theirs, and he does not enjoy child-like activities.
Benjamin is even turned away by colleges who think he is a senile old man. It is not long before he and his family realize that he is aging backward.
Benjamin’s father grants him ownership of Roger Button & Co. Wholesale Hardware when he reaches adulthood. Benjamin soon encounters Hildegarde Moncrief, and they fall in love. Although she prefers older men and is willing to marry him, Hildegarde is unaware of his condition. Years later, Benjamin’s business is flourishing, but he is sick of Hildegarde because she has become naggy and ugly. Benjamin enlists in the Spanish-American War in 1898 out of boredom and achieves considerable military success, even becoming a lieutenant colonel. He receives a medal after leaving the service to concentrate on his business.
Looking like a 20-year-old, Benjamin is popular and successful when enrolling as a freshman at Havard. However, his body and mind start regressing, and the subsequent years of his college education are a struggle for him.
Benjamin slowly becomes more childlike and loses memories of his life, even attending school with his granddaughter. The story ends with his vision fading to black.
Born with a unique condition where he ages backward, Benjamin lives the stages of his life in reverse. He has a successful career and education only to become childlike toward the end of his life.
4. Writing Style
In “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Fitzgerald uses his trademark imagery to involve readers in the story through tactile and sensory imagery. Similarly to The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses a third-person narrator to share Benjamin’s tale.
5. Influence on Media
In 2008, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was adapted into a movie. In 2019, it was adapted into a stage play.
6. Quotes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be.”Benjamin Button
Recommended: Short Stories Quotes by F. Scott Fitzgerald
7. Frequently Asked Questions about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” a real story?
No, the story is simply a fictional work. However, there is such a condition known as Hutchison-Gilford progeria to look childlike as the person ages.
Why does Benjamin age backward?
While “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” does not explain the reason, the movie adaptation adds a sci-fi twist where a clockmaker has the power to reverse time. This reversal affects Benjamin’s aging process.