Benjamin Button

  • At Birth (Age 70)

    Benjamin Button is born, seemingly, at the age of seventy. Although he has only been in the world for a few hours, he already seems to have the life experience, abilities, and knowledge of an elderly man. Benjamin is irritated by the way the nurses are treating him like other newborns: "'I asked them for something to eat... and they brought me a bottle of milk!" (63).
  • Mid-1860's : Toddler Years (Age in the late 60's)

    Benjamin, though physically in his mid-sixties, is being forced to live the life of a young child. He is most content reading quietly, smoking a cigar, or engaging in other elderly activities. As Mr. Button struggles to accept his son's differences, he tries to force childhood onto the unusual boy: "Neverless he brought home lead soldiers, he brought toy trains, he brought large pleasant animals made of cotton . . . perfect the illusion which he was creating–for himself at least... " (67).
  • 5 Years Old: To Kindergarten (Age 65)

    5 Years Old: To Kindergarten (Age 65)
    At age five, Benjamin is sent to kindergarten. This is his first, true entry into a structured setting with other children his age. Because of Benjamin's advanced mind, he found "the art of pasting green paper on orange paper" (68) to be a bit boring. He was known "to drowse off to sleep in the middle of these tasks . . ." (68). He was taken out of kindergarten, eventually.
  • 12 Years Old: Growing Up (Age 58)

    12 Years Old: Growing Up (Age 58)
    Benjamin is beginning to see signs of his growing up and of his growing younger: ". . . He [Benjamin]. . . made an astonishing discovery. Did his eyes deceive him, or had his hair turned in the dozen years of his life from white to iron-gray . . .? Was the network of wrinkles on his face becoming less pronounced? Was his skin healthier and firmer . . .? . . . His physical condition had improved since the early days of his life. . . 'I am grown," he announced determinedly" (68).
  • 18 Years Old (Age 52)

    Through his teen to young-twenties years, Benjamin begins to grow more, and he plans to attend college: ". . . He was erect as a man of fifty; he had more hair and it was of a dark gray; his step was firm, his voice had lost its cracked quaver and descended to a healthy baritone. So his father sent him up to Connecticut to take examinations for entrance to Yale College" (69).
  • 20 Years Old: "Going Out Socially" (Age 50)

    20 Years Old: "Going Out Socially" (Age 50)
    At this time in his life, Benjamin begins working at Roger Button & Co., Wholesale Hardware, and he starts "going out socially" (71). This is when he meets his future wife, Hildegarde Moncrief, and the world opens to him: "He stood close to the wall, silent, inscrutable, watching with murderous eyes the young bloods of Baltimore . . . But when his own time came . . . his jealousies and anxieties melted . . . Blind with enchantment, he felt that life was just beginning" (72).
  • 20 Years Old: Proposal (Age 50)

    Only six months after meeting Hildegarde, Benjamin proposes to her. This kicks up a bit of settled dust about his oddities: "He became known, journalistically, as the Mystery Man of Maryland. But the true story, as is usually the case, had a very small circulation" (74).
  • 35 Years Old: Fortune (Age 35)

    Benjamin, with his father's retirement, has inheritted the family business. He has also, physically, changed quite a bit. Against most predictions, Benjamin becomes wealthy, has a son, and is finally accepted by his father-in-law and the city of Baltimore: "It seemed that the blood flowed with new vigor through his veins . . . Benjamin discovered that he was becoming more and more attracted by the gay side of life." With this new life, though, Benjamin was no longer attracted to his wife.
  • 38 Years Old: Off to War (Age 32)

    38 Years Old: Off to War (Age 32)
    Benjamin's life and family begins to bore him so much that he decides to go off and fight in the Spanish-American War: ". . . He obtained a commission as captain, and proved so adaptable to the work that he was made a major, and finally a lieutenant-colonel . . . Benjamin had become so attached to the activity and excitement of army life that he regretted to give it up . . ." (76).
  • 48 Years Old: New Interests (Age 22)

    48 Years Old: New Interests (Age 22)
    As Benjamin contiues to grow younger and younger, he is a bit frightened of what the outcome of the process will be. He and his wife are distant from one another, and he dislikes being seen with her in public. Pursuing new interests and not missing a single party "interfered to some extent with his business" (77), so he decides to hand the family business down to his son, Roscoe Button.
  • 50 Years Old: Back to College (Age 20)

    Benjamin is admitted to Harvard University in Cambridge. He plays "brilliantly" in a football game against Yale, but soon realizes the negative effects of his disorder: ". . . In his senior year he did not make the team at all. He had grown so slight and frail that one day he was taken by some sophmores for a freshman . . . His studies seemed harder for him--he felt that they were too advanced" (78).
  • 54 Years Old: Prep School (Age 16)

    Benjamin has grown to the age a teenage boy. He no longer is given the respect he once had, which both bothers and frustrates him. He decides that he would like to go to prep school, while his own son treats him as inferior: "'. . . Call me 'Uncle'--not 'Roscoe," but 'Uncle,' do you understand? It looks absurd for a boy of fifteen to call me by my first name. Perhaps you'd better call me 'Uncle' all the time, so you'll get used to it'" (79).
  • 65 Years Old: Welcome Grandson (Age 5)

    ". . . Roscoe Button's first child was born. During the attendant festivities, however, no one thought it "the thing" to mention that the little grubby boy, apparently about ten years of age who played around the house with lead soldiers and a miniature circus, was the new baby's own grandfather" (81). Five years after Benjamin's grandson's birth, the two of them played and attended kindergarten together. When the boy moved on to first grade, Benjamin stayed back, and "he was very happy" (82).
  • Age 70: Baby (Age 0)

    Benjamin is now just a baby; barely able to communicate or comprehend anything: "He did not remember. He did not remember clearly whether the milk was warm or cool at his last feeding or how the days passed--there was only his crib and Nana's familiar presence. And then he remembered nothing. When he was hungry he cried--that was all . . . Then it was all dark . . . and the warm sweet aroma of the milk, faded out altogether from his mind" (83).