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Tender is the Night

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Chapters 12-16

Chapters 5-11

Chapters 17-21

Summary

That day, the Divers, Norths, and Rosemary lunch together in a restaurant and measure the "repose" of the Americans who come in to eat. Dick announces that he is the only American with repose and gleefully notes when each man who enters fidgets under the gaze of their party. Rosemary gets up from the table to call a movie house, asking them to give a showing of her successful film "Daddy's Girl." After her call, she overhears an intimate exchange between Dick and Nicole in which Dick sighs how much he wants Nicole, and they arrange to rendezvous at the hotel at four to be together. The exchange echoes through Rosemary's mind as she and Nicole go shopping after lunch, the elder showing the younger how to be careless with wealth. Just after four, Nicole offhandedly takes off for the hotel.

Before leaving for Paris, the same party visits a World War I battlefield where Dick animatedly serves as guide. He spies a young girl bearing flowers to leave on her brother's grave, which she can't find. Dick instructs her to leave the flowers on a grave without looking at the name. The girl follows his instructions, comforted.

They head to Paris and take drinks on a houseboat on the Seine, leaving Nicole in the hotel to rest. Abe continues to drink and Rosemary even takes a glass herself, her first, announcing that the previous day was her eighteenth birthday. Dick plans an extravagant birthday party for the following night. Abe and Dick discuss the works they had almost abandoned, the former his musical score, the latter his medical treatise, as Abe continues to fill Rosemary's glass. Perhaps fired by the liquor, Rosemary invites Dick into her room, across from his own, and asks him to take her. They kiss, but Dick declines the offer and tries to explain why they cannot have an affair, although the thought catches him more off guard than he is willing to admit. Dick leaves and Rosemary brushes her hair feverishly.

Rosemary wakes the next morning and shops with Nicole, each of them noting that they lived in a similar neighborhood of Paris when they were young, each of their families economizing. Rosemary notes that economizing had very different implications for each, however. The two women meet Dick and the Norths for lunch, and Rosemary is delighted to discover that there are no serious repercussions from the night before. The whole group, adding Collis Clay, a Yale student Rosemary knew from the states, go to watch a showing of Rosemary's "Daddy's Girl" at a movie house. Everyone enjoys it, despite--or perhaps because of--the frank suggestion of sexuality between Rosemary's character and the father. Following the screening, Rosemary announces that she has arranged for a screen test for Dick, in which he adamantly refuses to participate, despite the jealous urgings of the others present.

Nicole and the Norths leave together to ready Abe for his trip to America while Dick, Rosemary and Collis leave together as well. Though Collis wants to spend more time with the starlet, Dick and Rosemary drop him at his hotel and go to a party together. Dick warns Rosemary that she will not like the party, but that he must go to arrange for the purchase of a struggling friend's painting.

Commentary

The scene in the restaurant may be a confusing one to modern readers. Repose is a difficult concept to define; it refers to an ability to maintain grace and dignity at all times, even under scrutiny. Most of the Americans the party watches fidget in a way that communicates their nervousness. The scene serves to once again celebrate the practiced elegance of the hero.

Dick's rendezvous with Nicole shows that he has private sexual longings. The urgency of his sexual request bears an interesting implication for his future affair with Rosemary. She does not revive sexual longings in him; she merely becomes the new receptacle for them. Dick's penchant for being a caretaker or father figure to women around him is revealed in the battlefield scene when he helps the young girl. Dick is able to make things emotionally comfortable for people, even with regard to the war. Fitzgerald continues to paint an increasingly flattering portrait of his hero.

However, the battlefield scene also introduces the issue of World War I. This war left Europe in shambles, both on account of the loss of its young men, its physical destruction, and the overturning of economies. America felt some of these tremors as well, but emerged as a true economic superpower. This wealth, in some ways, accounts for the world that Fitzgerald portrays in Europe. Americans came over by the boatload, bearing with them their wealth. This new power dynamic between the American travelers and the native hosts accounts for some of the strange relationships that emerge. Dick's visceral and eloquent, if exaggerated, account of the war reveals his sensitivity to the European concern. He is a character who never saw action in the war, but his world changed remarkably as a result of it.

The fact that Rosemary and Nicole have different ideas of economizing helps highlight an interesting similarity and difference between the two. The two are similar in that they are both financially independent women; neither needs to rely on men for her economic well being. The difference rests on the idea that while Rosemary is a new woman who has worked for her money, Nicole inherited hers. What Dick has to offer each of them is not money, but something more human.

The screening of Rosemary's movie shows how she made her money. Dick's refusal to get the screen test she offers puts her world in a somewhat negative light. He explains that acting is fine for her but not for him; he is more serious. Dick is closer to the movie than he lets on, though, and the role of the "Daddy's Girl" becomes almost a theme of the novel. We learn later that Nicole too was a daddy's girl, but her sexual relationship with her father went beyond suggestion. Dick later becomes a father figure to Nicole and acts as one to Rosemary even as he declines her advances in her hotel room.

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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 61 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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