“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald was a very interesting read. It is a short story that I got for free through BookShout. I didn’t even realize that the 2008 movie with Brad Pitt was based off of the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald until I saw it as an option on the ‘free books’ list. I haven’t even seen the movie, but my interest was peaked and so I began to read “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” on my iPhone whenever I had a spare moment.
One thing that really struck me when reading this story was how everyone in Benjamin Button’s life seemed to blame him for his existence and the oddity surrounding it. He was born an old man and his father forced him to behave like the child he was expected to be. He was put in the nursery and given children’s toys to play with and expected to eat what a child would eat. After he once broke something he received a form of praise, since it was something that a child would do. “Thereafter Benjamin contrived to break something every day, but he did these things only because they were expected of him, and because he was by nature obliging.” (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, pg 3). I thought this was a sad quote, very early on it is established that Benjamin wants nothing more than to please those around him. He goes out of his way to try to act as he is expected to act based off of his age, not his reality.
Normally, I am not one for shoving my interpretation of symbolism into my book reviews, but I couldn’t help it with this story. It seemed to me that Benjamin Button was an excellent example of anyone that is slightly different and how those that are different in one way or another are constantly being told to be normal, or at least what society believes should be normal. The example that really shone through to me was that of homosexuality. There are still many people out there that believe that being gay is a choice; that it is something that people chose to do, rather than the truth, that it is just a part of who you are. Expecting people to change, to pretend to be what they are not, is a part of everyday life in our current society. This is especially true for homosexuals (despite the dramatic changes towards acceptance that have come around in recent years). The way that everyone in Benjamin’s life scolded him and felt ashamed of him, it just struck me as unfair. “But there’s a right way of doing things and a wrong way. If you’ve made up your mind to be different from everybody else, I don’t suppose I can stop you, but I really don’t think it’s very considerate.” (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, pg 8). I thought this was a great example of how it was more important to those around Benjamin to blame him for the fact that they were uncomfortable and that in their opinion, he was being selfish by choosing to be different.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think that it was a very interesting read. In just a few pages, Fitzgerald was able to portray the challenges that Benjamin faced by being born in extraordinary circumstances. Benjamin was born an old man. The entirety of his life had a shadow of sadness to it. Everyone he should have been able to expect support and love from instead judged him and were ashamed of him. It was a sad and fascinating read.