At five o'clock the sombre egg-shaped room at the Ritz ripens to a subtle melody--the light click-clat of the lump, two lumps, into the cup, and the ding of the shining teapots and cream-pots as they kiss elegantly in transit upon a silver tray.
There comes a time when we all have to realize we are no longer young. That we are no longer to be taken care of, instead we need to be the ones to take control and take care of others. Some learn this lesson quicker and easier than others. The Adjuster is the story of one woman who has a harder time learning this lesson.
As a young married wife and mother, Luella, complains about being bored with her life. She is desperate for excitement and feels she would do anything to remove herself from her responsibilities. But due to unfortunate circumstances, including an extended illness of her husband and the death of her baby she is forced to grow up. All under the watchful eyes of Doctor Moon, the enigmatic doctor who came to visit.
There are a few passages I want to point out, passages of Dr. Moon explaining to Luella how we all need grow up..."We make an agreement with our children that they can sit in the audience without helping to make the play, " he said, "but if they still sit in the audience after they're grown, somebody's got to work double time for them, so they can enjoy the light and the glitter of the world." And Of course, Luella, being a selfish girl she says she wants the glitter, "That's all there is in life. There can't be anything wrong in wanting to have things warm." But Dr. Moon goes on to explain..."It is your turn to be the centre, to give others what was given to you for so long. You've got to give security to young people and peace to your husband, and a sort of charity to the old. You've got to let the people who work for you depend on you. You've got to cover up a few more troubles that you show, and be a little more patient than the average person, and do a little more instead of a little less than your share. The light and the glitter of the world is in your hands."
Eventually, Luella, willing grows up.
I don't know how evident my feelings are when it comes to the typical Fitzgerald woman? If I have been vague about this, let me be clear. I don't respect or admire many of the women Fitzgerald writes about in his stories. I find them manipulative and shallow, and in general they are the type of woman I try really hard to not be. But I know they are a big part of his writing, they were his crack, so to speak. In The adjuster he addresses this......"it is one of the many flaws in the scheme of human relationships that selfishness in women has an irresistible appeal to many men." And yet it is here in this story that he address the need for his type of woman to grow up, (or maybe he is including himself in this declaration).
It is no secret that Zelda was not a great housekeeper, and that she was selfish, and my impression is they were not the most "present" parents to little Scottie. And not knowing all the background that was going on as he was writing The Adjuster, I can only speculate that he was working out feeling and struggles that was happening in his own household at the time. However, I did pick out this description of Luella with her baby..."She was thrilled sometimes, and formed new resolves about life when his heart beat against her own." As a parent, holding your child and feeling the heart beat or the sweet breath of a baby is one of those indescribable events- so common, that everyone has access to it, but so life fulfilling. It is the connection of parent to child. I guess to me, no matter what the relationship was between parent and child, he was in love with her, and connected to her and moved by her, as parents are. ***note to self, read more about Scottie Fitzgerald***
To wrap up my thoughts I wanted to pick out another passage I underlined as I was reading...
They were of that enormous American class who wander over Europe every summer, sneering rather pathetically and wistfully at the customs and traditions and pastimes of the other countries, because they have no customs or traditions or pastimes of their own.
Read The Adjuster for yourself