“Conscience—kill it like me! Eleanor Savage, materiologist … .”
“But I have to have a soul,” [Amory] objected. “I can’t be rational—and I won’t be molecular.”
… “I thought so, … , I feared so—you’re sentimental. You’re not like me. I’m a romantic little materialist.”
“I’m not sentimental—I’m as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last—the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won’t.”This Side of Paradise p. 162
Amory here is exposing his own contradiction: he has to have a soul (that presumably goes on), and yet, as a romantic, he longs for the end of things, a desperate ache to be always throwing a pity party—maybe with Mrs. Haversham’s cake providing the nourishment. His ever evolving world view leads him ever closer to nihilism. And thus he has nothing to offer Eleanor or himself or anyone else.