The Beautiful and Damned

by

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Anthony’s Bathroom Symbol Analysis

Anthony’s Bathroom Symbol Icon

Anthony considers his luxurious bathroom to be a sanctuary—he retreats there often to hide or recover from his relatively easy life. Therefore, the bathroom represents Anthony’s futile attempts to hide from reality. His bathtub has a book stand so that he can read there, and the floor has a plush carpet that cups his bare foot in such a way that he walks on a literal cushion of riches. The wall bears a picture of the sun shining on a snowy landscape, which Anthony likens to the cold shower head. His preference for warm baths over cold showers is significant because baths often symbolize the womb. The fact that Anthony’s mother died young, and the way he uses long baths to escape from the realities of adulthood and mortality, suggests that his retreats into the bathtub are also retreats into an infantile state of safety and insulation that was taken from him too young. Throughout the novel, Anthony does not want to give up his apartment and he even worries about sharing his beloved bathroom with Gloria. However, the more he clings to the comfort it offers, the clearer it becomes that the bathroom offers only illusory protection from the harsh realities of adulthood. The wardrobe full of fancy clothes represents both wealth and the false performance of wealth through costume, while the pictures of beautiful actresses on the walls are only the image of fame and happiness, reinforcing that, to Anthony, fame and happiness are only a dream.

The climactic scene of the novel resolves with Anthony on the bathroom floor with his stamp collection, completely out of touch with reality and unable to understand when Gloria tells him that they have won their lawsuit. The scene complicates Anthony’s hedonistic enjoyment of his lush carpet. The carpet may represent wealth and entitlement, but it is the only layer between Anthony’s body and the cold, hard bathroom floor. The bathroom thus embodies the irony of Anthony’s life: while on the one hand the room seems a fortress of solitude, it is simultaneously a chamber of isolation in which Anthony imprisons himself, arresting his own personal growth.

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Anthony’s Bathroom Symbol Timeline in The Beautiful and Damned

The timeline below shows where the symbol Anthony’s Bathroom appears in The Beautiful and Damned. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Wealth and Waste Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
Beauty and Self-Sabotage Theme Icon
...Square to Central Park. The “heart and core of the apartment” are Anthony’s bedroom and bathroom. Anthony especially loves his bathtub, complete with a bookholder, and thinks of his bathroom as... (full context)
Chapter 9
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
Immaturity and Wisdom Theme Icon
...in later to find a smashed chair, the smell of perfume, and Anthony on the bathroom floor clutching his stamp collection. They tell him that they have won the lawsuit. He... (full context)