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"The Freshest Boy"
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald
Country USA
Language English
Genre(s) Short story
Published in The Saturday Evening Post
collected in Taps at Reveille
Publication type Magazine
Short Story Collection
Publisher Scribner (book)
Media type Print
Publication date July 28, 1928

The Freshest Boy is a short story by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was first published in The Saturday Evening Post 28 July 1928. It was reprinted in Fitzgerald's 1935 collection, Taps at Reveille.


The story centers around a boy and his discouragement while attending a preparatory school. The character, Basil Duke Lee, is characterized as naive and dreamy. He is thus treated as an outcast among his peers as well as by the school's administrators.

Lee's naivete is contrasted with the experienced perspective of an upperclassman, Lewis Crum. Crum resents Lee's noncommitance to tradition, as well as his carefree nature. The two boys begin to develop a competitive relationship, and it becomes clear Lee is internally adjusted to the environment while outwardly aloof and unhappy. Unlike Lee, however, Crum comes from wealth and this gives him a palpable advantage at the school.

Lee is castigated by the school's headmaster over his low grades and we learn his family is not of much money, as a matter of fact he is one of the "poorest boys in a rich school." This causes him obvious shame, and the story's focus shifts to Basil's hopes for an off-campus excursion to New York City. Instead he ventures out to a suburb and interacts with a boy that seems to have an emotional disability of some kind.

Escaping the stifling atmosphere of the school, Basil finally ends up going to New York City and has lunch at the Manhattan Hotel. It is there he reads a letter from his mother. The theme of homesickness is evident throughout the work. The letter informs Lee he will be going abroad and will thus not be attending the school anymore. Initially, he is elated by the news.

The last section of the story takes place within the theater as Lee's thoughts turn to his future. He feels like actors following the course of a play he has a destiny. Although he seeks to escape the turgid atmosphere of the preparatory school, he also believes he must actualize his fate and this includes college. After the play the school official who accompanies him gets intoxicated and falls asleep at a table. When returning to the school, Lee is called a nickname but he is not ashamed, nor mortified by the prospect of being an outcast any longer. He realizes he is accepted, to the point where it will serve his needs, and falls alseep satisfied.


The story was written when Fitzgerald was arguably at the height of his creative powers. It is part of the Basil and Josephine series and was composed during his toils over Tender is the Night. Some of Basil Duke Lee's details bear some resemblance to his own including growing up in the Midwest. The story, like many Fitzgerald published at the time, was well received by readers.


"The Freshest Boy" was reprinted in Fitzgerald's 1935 collection Taps at Reveille. It has also been collected in The Basil and Josephine Stories, as well as Malcolm Cowley's The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald and in Matthew J. Bruccoli's The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald.


In The New York Times review of Taps at Reveille, critic Edith Walton wrote, "Poignant as well as amusing [are] the longer sequence of stories which deals with a pre-war boy in his middle teens. Though his method is different from Booth Tarkingtion's, Mr. Fitzgerald approaches at times the same startling veracity. Basil Duke Lee is a bright, sensitive, likeable boy, constantly betrayed by a fatal tendency to brag and boss. He knows his failing, especially after the minor hell of his first year at boarding school, but again and again he is impelled to ruin an initial good impression. Two of the Basil stories—'He Thinks He's Wonderful' and 'The Perfect Life'—are small masterpieces of humor and perception, and Mr. Fitzgerald is always miraculously adept at describing adolescent love affairs and adolescent swagger."[1]


  1. ^ Edith Walton, "Scott Fitzgerald's Tales," The New York Times, March 31, 1935.

The stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: a selection of 28 stories FS Fitzgerald, M Cowley - 1951 - Scribner

External links[edit]

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7 news items

Sun, 09 Jun 2013 08:01:58 -0700

My favorites, though, are his imperfect novels, the ones where his poetry and humanity show through the prose: Tender Is the Night, The Beautiful and Damned, short stories like “The Freshest Boy” or “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” and the Crack-Up essays.
New Yorker (blog)
Fri, 29 Jan 2010 09:26:15 -0800

I remembered this passage from the F. Scott Fitzgerald story “The Freshest Boy”: He had contributed to the events by which another boy was saved from the army of the bitter, the selfish, the neurasthenic and the unhappy. It isn't given to us to know ...
Go Banking Rates
Tue, 02 Apr 2013 09:41:23 -0700

With the continued frenzy over the freshest boy bands in the music scene, including One Direction and The Wanted, now is apparently as good of a time as any for New Kids on the Block and other pop legends to step into the spotlight once again to revive ...
Sun, 04 Aug 2013 14:00:00 -0700

In his song “Picture Me”, we are left with the indication that Dadie Opanka may have gone over some personal hurdles recently but with his talent and dedication to hard work, we look forward to seeing more from the FRESHEST BOY in the building. 2. Proverb.
Thu, 31 May 2012 02:40:49 -0700

After Salinger's death, Wes Anderson commented, “I remembered this passage from the F. Scott Fitzgerald story The Freshest Boy: 'He had contributed to the events by which another boy was saved from the army of the bitter, the selfish, the neurasthenic ...
International Business Times AU
Thu, 07 Jun 2012 23:11:15 -0700

It has always been a usual thing that whoever gets linked with any of the One Direction boys are forced to stay inactive online due since being targeted by the fans of the freshest boy band in town. During the early parts of this year, the judge of the ...
Mon, 24 Sep 2012 04:28:36 -0700

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald nace en Saint Paul, Minnesota, el 24 de septiembre de 1896 y muere en Hollywood, California, el 21 de diciembre de 1940. Fue un novelista estadounidense de la época del jazz. Su obra es el reflejo, desde una elevada óptica ...

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