Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

"Poor Lad's Daydream" Story: Tender Is the Night and Other Novels

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

"Poor Lad's Daydream" Story: Tender Is the Night and Other Novels

Article excerpt


This paper aims to explore the traditional mode and modern edition of "Poor Lad's Daydream" story, as well as the reasons behind its evolution. Modern edition of "Poor Lad's Daydream" story, represented by the early 20th century American novelist Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night, turns out to be different from its classic form in folktale. First, modern edition focuses on how poor lad's daydream becomes disillusioned, and on the various setbacks he is confronted with, rather than how the fancy dream gets realized. What's more, in modern edition, male's disadvantageous position in marriage market fails to be improved as the story develops, and the masculine power and authority are not further reinforced. In addition, females in modern edition break away from the embarrassing position of "the second sex" and "the other". They take more initiative and independence, and gain more and more power in the relationship between two sexes, instead of being passive, fragile and always needing male's protection as showed in traditional folktales. In the end, the old folktale displays male's victory, while modern edition expresses male's anxiety. The reason why ancient "Poor Lad's Daydream" story has various evolution in modern narration is that female's social status has been improved, social gender has been reconstructed, marriage concepts has developed because of the social change, and male writers become confused and anxious because of the change of male-female relationship and the change of gender roles.

Key words: Fitzgerald; Tender Is the Night; Evolution of the story; Poor Lad's Daydream


Sigmund Freud writes in his well-known paper Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming that:

Let us take the case of a poor orphan boy to whom you have given the address of some employer where he may perhaps find a job? The content of his fantasy will perhaps be something like this. He is given a job, finds favor with his new employer, makes himself indispensable in the business, first as his employer's partner and then as his successor. (Freud, 2002, p.215)

Here Freud demonstrates one of the most typical daydreams of human beings, "poor (boy's) lad's daydream", exactly. The main story, similar to the well- known Cinderella's story can be viewed as the male- Cinderella story. It is acknowledged that original Cinderella story is popular with writers, readers, especially the female, and its modern editions are numerous, while the male-Cinderella story or "Poor Lad's Daydream" story are only seen in folklore and fairy tales, and its modern edition differs from traditional mode to a great degree. Male writers in modern times are not keen on the old situation and ending. Instead, in their writings, poor lad's daydreams are too often hindered by various setbacks and become difficult to achieve. This paper aims mainly to explore the traditional mode and modern evolution of "Poor Lad's Daydream" story, as well as the reasons behind the evolution, taking Tender Is the Night by American novelist Fitzgerald of the early 20th century and some other "Poor Lad's Daydream" stories as instances.


Similar to Cinderella story, there is a big gap between the two sexes in "Poor Lad's Daydream" stories in folklore and fairy tales, both in social status, wealth and in other aspects. But in the end the male makes his success through marriage, owning to his diligence, talent, or other extraordinary abilities, just like Cinderella who relies on fabulous beauty and kind-heartedness to achieve progress in the social ladder.

The plot of traditional "Poor Lad's Daydream" story is always set as follows. Poor lad takes an adventure or makes a living outside. Afterwards, he receives advice or assistance from sage or Master because of his braveness, intelligence, competence or good deeds he does, and then successfully marries the beautiful princess or the daughter of a Lord. …

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