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Tender is the Night

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Chapters 8-13

Chapters 4-7

Study Questions

Summary

Tommy arrives at the Divers house. He and Nicole drink a bottle of wine, then drive toward his hotel. At Nicole's urging, they stop midway at a beach hotel and make love. An American ship is leaving, and the local girls all wave goodbye. Nicole and Tommy make love again. Before daylight, Nicole returns home. Dick returns home that afternoon and finds Nicole confident and effectively cured. Finding him upset, Nicole tries to comfort Dick, but it is no use.

At two o'clock that night, Dick receives a call that Mary North and Lady Caroline have landed themselves in prison, impersonating sailors and picking up girls. Dick spins out a yarn for the jailer that they are American royalty and the jailer releases them for a bribe.

The next day, Dick and Nicole go to get their hair cut together. Before the cuts are finished, Tommy Barban appears and wants to talk. Tommy announces coolly that Nicole loves him and not Dick. The criminal that Dick met outside the movie studio in Paris appears announcing the Tour de France. They learn that the Tour will pass through any minute and the three quickly and gracefully decide that Dick and Nicole will divorce. /PARAGRAPH On the beach, Nicole and Tommy sit together while Dick has one last conversation with Mary North. She praises his old self, saying how everybody loved Dick. Dick crosses the beach like a pope. Nicole wants to go to him, but Tommy restrains her.

In three paragraphs, we learn that Nicole marries Tommy, and Dick moves to New York to practice medicine. Nicole hears that he is well respected, but keeps moving to smaller and smaller towns, even married once, presumably to escape problems with girls. /PARAGRAPH

Commentary

In the face of Dick's weakness, Nicole finds her freedom. Fitzgerald writes, "The case was finished: Doctor Diver was at liberty." This sentence, in its reference to Dick once more as Doctor Diver, raises the possibility that Dick's abhorrent behavior had all been a ploy to encourage the recuperation of his wife. /PARAGRAPH However, it is a far stronger conclusion that Dick was truly ruined in the process of curing Nicole. The fact that he is called Doctor Diver, in this view, taking on a powerful irony.

Yet though the second view seems more easily supportable than the first, Dick is not wholly ruined at the end of the book, as the scene in which he rescues Mary from prison reveals. He is still quite capable of acting with the extraordinary resolve and charisma that made him such a compelling man at the beginning of the book. This scene serves simply to show that the heroic Dick has not wholly been lost.

The scene in which Dick relinquishes his wife to Tommy with such maturity further reinforces this claim. He does so with great grace, and does not allow himself to depend on anyone but himself for emotional support. He has achieved at least a partial escape from his dissolution. In curing his patient he was deeply affected and scarred, and missed out on his ambitions, but he was not destroyed.

The fact that Nicole ends up with a military man, a soldier and a mercenary, is an interesting one. She fell in love with Dick when she saw him in his uniform, but Dick was not a soldier. Also, the fact that Tommy restrains Nicole when she wishes to go help her husband raises the suggestion that though she has found her freedom she will never be completely free from Dick; that their influence on each other will always, in some form, remain.

Dick's life is similarly ambiguous, though less stable or happy than Nicole's. After gaining a final validation of his former glory and attractiveness from Mary, Dick disappears. He moves to America and becomes a rumour, a fitting existence for a man who dedicated his life to curing someone else. Yet he regains his charm, and embraces America, as his movement from city to small town represents. Not to say his life is perfectly happy: he carries with him regret, and perhaps for this reason he cannot die in the end of the novel, but, like Nicole's father, lives on. Dick's greatest achievement, it seems, was curing Nicole, and both of them will forever be affected by the creative struggle that that cure entailed.

The fact that at the novel's end the perspective remains with Nicole rather than follow Dick serves several purposes. On the one hand it allows Dick to disappear in mystery, to dissolve. On the other hand, it establishes Nicole as Dick's caretaker, as the healthy one. In her health, Dick achieves validation for the decision he made to devote himself to Nicole. He achieved greatness through his cure of one person, at least. Yet even while highlighting Dick's greatness, this stylistic mood also reduces him, transforms him from hero to helper, and fixes Nicole at the novel's center.

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TERRIBLE

by deadendjustice, December 19, 2012

Do NOT read this book it is dull and boring.. go for the outsiders!!!!!

1 Comments

6 out of 64 people found this helpful

just had to say...

by gelik, April 24, 2013

to the first reviewer: philistine

0 Comments

5 out of 5 people found this helpful

Fitzgerald birth year correction

by RevMJR1015, January 14, 2014

I'm almost certain Fitzgerald was born in 1896, not '97.

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