In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel This Side of Paradise, Amory Blaine searches for his identity by 'mirroring' people he admires. However, these 'mirrors' actually block him from finding his true self. He falls in love with women whose personalities intrigue him; he mimics the actions of men he looks up to. Eleanor Savage and Burne Holiday serve as prime examples of this. Until Amory loses his pivotal 'mirror,' Monsignor Darcy, he searches for his soul in all the wrong places. When Monsignor Darcy dies, Amory has the spiritual epiphany he needs to reach his 'paradise' - the knowledge of who Amory Blaine truly is.
Amory appears to be a rather vacuous choice for a protagonist. He relies mainly on his breathtaking handsomeness and wealth in order to get by in life. He has been endowed with brains, but it takes him years to learn how and when to use them.
Amory spends his late high school and college years frolicking with his peers and debutantes. By constantly associating with others Amory creates an image of himself that he maintains until he becomes bored or finds a new personality to imitate. Amory does not know who he really is, what he truly feels, or what he thinks. He merely cultivates his personality du jour depending on how he believes he would like to be. Essentially, Amory is shopping at a personality store, trying each one on until he can find one that fits.
This personality imitation began when Amory spent his adolescent years in the presence of his flamboyant mother, Beatrice. Beatrice raised Amory to be what she wanted him to be, as long as it was stylish and acceptable to coeval virtues. When he goes to Princeton, the separation from his mother, who essentially thought for him, leads...