Tender is the Night
At the request of her mother, Rosemary visits Earl Brady the following day, an American filmmaker with a studio in Monte Carlo. They greet each other professionally, Brady looking her over completely, quite taken by her beauty, and Rosemary somewhat aroused at his clear interest in her. They each agree that they would like to make a movie together. Meanwhile, back at his villa, Dick Diver explains to Nicole, who is tending her elegant garden, that he has decided to throw a really bad party and has invited all of the pale people. She placidly agrees, knowing that Dick's charms can make a party tolerable, even with such people.
The guests begin to arrive, and Dick makes them all feel comfortable. Rosemary tells Dick that she fell in love with him the first moment she saw him and he pretends not to hear. Rosemary then talks with Tommy Barban about his participation in wars, and Tommy intimates to Rosemary that he likes Nicole very much. Brady attends the party as well and pales, in Rosemary's eyes, now that she can compare him to Dick. The McKiscos and their group arrive and generate a rather tense environment, which Dick wisely refuses to defuse. As they sit down to dinner, nobody can help but be personable and friendly in this magical environment created by the Divers, although McKisco repeatedly and unsuccessfully tries to initiate conversations with Dick across the table. The dinner ends, and the Divers go inside the house. Violet McKisco follows them inside to use the restroom while her husband exasperatedly attacks Barban for fighting on the side of the communists. Violet returns quite excited by something she's seen. As she begins to relate her story, Barban interrupts her, advising her not to discuss what goes on in the Diver house.
Dick reemerges, instinctively separates Violet from Barban, and discusses literature with McKisco. Rosemary finally gets Dick alone, and he invites her to come to Paris with them to see Abe North off to America. Rosemary agrees, reiterating to Dick her love for him, and the guests head home. Rosemary and her mother go in one car with Brady, and the McKiscos and their group go in another with Barban. On the road back, Rosemary's car passes the other car parked by the side of the road, but they think nothing of it.
Rosemary cannot sleep and wanders out before dawn to walk. She finds Campion, who explains that Violet continued to try to explain what she had seen in the Diver bathroom, and Barban kept interrupting her. He explains that there is going to be a duel just as Abe North appears and rudely interrupts him. Abe continues Campion's story, saying that Barban eventually screamed, asking McKisco to shut his wife up. McKisco suggested that they have a duel, and Barban accepted. Barban found a man to be his second, McKisco asked Abe to be his, and the duel was scheduled for dawn.
Rosemary and Abe find McKisco, who is quite shaken by his own bravado and still rather drunk. Abe explains that they've set the distance between the duelers at the maximum, forty paces, since neither man wishes to kill the other. Rosemary declines the offer to attend and goes home to her mother. Mrs. Speers suggests that Rosemary go since she might be able to help if a man gets hurt. Rosemary rides with Campion to the golf course and watches the two men face off. They count to three, the men fire and both miss. Barban demands another shot, but Abe dissuades him. McKisco exults that he has acquitted himself so nobly. He cannot be silenced when Abe points out just how drunk he was. As if to drive the point home, McKisco vomits in the bushes.
The scene at the movie studio serves several functions. It reveals Rosemary's youthful fickleness, showing that she can be so attracted to Brady just after confessing her love for Dick. In addition, the presence of a movie studio not only makes the Mediterranean somehow less rustic but also introduces acting as a theme. Los Angeles, as the home of movies, is referred to as the "city of thin partitions," but the partitions are thin throughout the book, and everybody acts. The thin partitions between sanity and insanity are always hinted at, and Dick's ability to be mannered emerges later as an act.
The primary purpose of the party scene is to reveal the extraordinary and contagious sociability of Dick. He is not only charming, but able to sweep along entirely dissonant groups of people in his excitement. What Dick exhibits in this scene is exactly what he loses through the course of the novel. Showing Dick in his magnificence is essential to strengthening the character's dissolution.
Dick's flirtations with Rosemary foreshadow their future affair, while Tommy Barban's remark about his caring for Nicole foreshadows that affair. At this point, the Divers' relationship is still strong, but we learn through Violet that they have a secret. While we do not learn until later that the secret is Nicole's mental instability, the scene serves to suggest that even the Divers have imperfections. The ideal world is pierced.
Violence ensues. Short, captivating moments of violence erupt sporadically throughout the novel, each accompanying a profound shift in the narrative. The violence, too, always maintains a relationship with the rift between America and Europe. Abe North credits Tommy's "being French," and not his being a mercenary soldier, for his eagerness to duel. European violence, as in this scene, has an elegance; American violence, it is implied, lacks any such grace or nobility.
The duel also serves as a turning point in McKisco's life. Whereas before and during the duel McKisco is treated by the text with nothing but contempt, after the duel he begins to change. The drunken accident of the duel gives McKisco a sense of self-confidence, which in turn launches him toward success. The juxtaposition of McKisco's rise against the fall of Dick and Abe provides both poignancy and a commentary on the potent intersection of personality with the accidents of fate.