Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don’t. They just want the fun of eating it all over again. The matron doesn’t want to repeat her girlhood—she wants to repeat her honeymoon. I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.This Side of Paradise p. 183
Amory is projecting his cynicism to everyone else, but he’s probably hitting too close to home for some. What are our motivations for living in the past? That might be worth fleshing out. But aside from the philosophy, here is one example of where Fitzgerald is a master of the craft. The subtlety by which he exposes the reader’s heart here is brilliant. Eating candy is good, innocent fun, and even the honeymoon example has layers of meaning beyond just Amory being crass, but then when we’re nodding along, Fitzgerald shifts focus just slightly—from specific to general—and this generality hits home in a thousand ways to each reader’s situation. A brilliant set-up.