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Curious Case of Benjamin Button Short Story Review

Updated on June 20, 2011

Short Story by F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button –Short Story Review



This is a review of the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, not of the movie of the same moniker.  In this story, a child is born to a well-to-do Bostonian family.  Only, he is born “in reverse” –that is, he is physically an old man, with white whiskers, “drooping almost to the waist,” and a rudimentary knowledge, including the ability to speak and read, though little more.  He grows in reverse, so that at the age of twelve, his white hair ‘reverts’ to a deep grey, and his entire physicality changes in reverse until he is, at the end, but an infant.


This story, whether intentionally or not, works as perfect metaphor for at least 2 aspects of life.  The first of these is the way that adults, upon many years in their senior life revert to needing others, as young children, until their death.  Of course, it is an issue that is problematic for many, if not most people.  Even the young, far ahead of actually experiencing the conditions of senility, dementia, and other losses of abilities that most people take for granted, tend to rightfully fear such loss and dependency.  A fine example of this is the line by The Who, which runs “hope I die before I get old.”  Let’s face it: we humans enjoy our independence.


The story also shows the existential, seemingly mindlessness of life, at least at times, coupled with the lack of “fairness” that every child (and many adults in their most senior years) complains of.  “It’s not fair!” every child has said, at least once in life, probably since human speech began.  Yet interestingly, in the story, it is Benjamin Button’s father who complains, at least in action, of the unfairness of the situation upon which he has been thrust.  Other adults are less stoic, as exemplified by the short-tempered, frustrated family doctor who gives birth to the geriatric child (it is never explained, of course, just how a full-bodied adult could successfully leave a womb to enter this reality –his poor mother!). 


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an economically efficient, quick read that takes less than half an hour.  Yet, despite its economy of size, it fulfills the requirements of a short story by exemplifying, versus merely telling a tale.  It also satisfies many possibilities within the world of philosophy (and maybe religious and personal matters, too).  While it could be a bit more colorful in some respects, it is a satisfying read.  If the movie, which I’ve not seen, does the same, I’m sure it too will do well in the eyes of the critics. Enjoy.


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    • Sean Fullmer profile image

      Sean Fullmer 8 years ago from California

      Dear Rebekah, many thanks for the nice kudos! I should say that since writing this, I've seen the movie and really adored it. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were both spot on. Totally different story, but that's Hollywood.

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      rkmertz 8 years ago

      I have not read this short read yet but I definitely like how you interpreted this version, you make a lot of great points. I loved the movie and have my own interpertation of what it meant to me.