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Tender is the Night

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Chapters 17-21

Chapters 12-16

Chapters 22-25

Summary

Dick warns Rosemary that she will not like the party, and he is quite right. It is an ultra-modern, artistic party filled with catty people. Rosemary overhears three women badmouthing the Divers and anxiously finds Dick, who guides them out of the party. In the cab back to the hotel, they embrace and kiss ravenously. Dick reveals that he is in love with Rosemary also, but that the affair still cannot proceed. He explains that he loves Nicole and that she is not strong. The two head into the hotel together, kissing at every flight of stairs. Rosemary writes her mother all about it as soon as she reaches her room, concerned that she was no longer missed.

That night, Rosemary, the Divers, the Norths and Collis go out on a wild party, staying out all night dancing, drinking and playing pranks--finally riding among the carrots in the back of a produce truck. Toward morning, Mary North asks Rosemary to help her get the drunk Abe on his boat to America, and she reluctantly leaves the Divers to lend a hand.

At eleven the next morning, the whole group, excluding Collis, meets at the train station to see Abe off. Before leaving, Abe speaks alone with Nicole, saying he is sick of spending time with the Divers, and the narrator explains that he had been sick with love for Nicole for years. Nicole evades the conversation by speaking with an acquaintance she spots in the crowd, but the woman snubs her. As the train pulls away, the same woman twice fires a revolver at an Englishman, killing him. Dick discovers her identity, Maria Wallis, and resolves to go to the police station to help her. Nicole, noticing he is showing off for Rosemary, goes to phone Maria's family in Paris instead. Left alone, Dick and Rosemary rekindle their love for one another. The three leave the station quite shaken.

Rosemary, unnerved, leaves the Divers at a cafe to go meet some officials at the studio. Collis arrives and greets the couple without due formality, exasperating Nicole enough to force her to leave. Left alone, Collis relates a story to Dick about a dalliance Rosemary had on a train with a friend of his. Rosemary and this young man had apparently locked the door of a Pullman car and pulled down the shades. Such behavior was not allowed for an unmarried couple at the time, and the conductor was furious, but Collis brags that he was able to smooth things over. Dick grows extremely jealous at the story and the refrain "Do you mind if I pull down the curtain. Please do. It's too light in here" runs repeatedly through his head.

Dick leaves Collis to go to the bank, where he wishes to withdraw money but is faced with a predicament. The predicament is never clearly spelled out, but involves Diver's finances and forces him to deliberate quite ponderously on which teller will require the least amount of questioning. He makes his decision, gets his money and leaves. In his taxi, Dick heads for the movie studio to which he knew Rosemary had gone, knowing full well that this action indicates a turning point in his life. Standing around for almost an hour, a shady character approaches Dick and begins asking him questions, perhaps intending to rob him. Before Dick leaves him, the man shows Dick a cartoon clipping from a newspaper that depicts Americans pouring into Paris on a liner freighted with gold.

Dick calls Rosemary at the hotel, glancing at bottles as he does so, aglow with confusion and love for her. They exchange lovers' words. As Dick hangs up, though, she finishes a letter to her mother telling her of a new love she's found, conceding that she does still love Dick best. Dick calls Nicole and they agree to go to a show together. Rosemary stays home alone.

Commentary

In these chapters, the idyllic Diver world begins to crumble. Dick falls for Rosemary. The imagery of youth surrounds his infatuation with her. As they kiss, "her mouth was all new and warm." Of course, Nicole mustn't find out about the affair, and Dick is torn between his two loves. He reveals that he loves Nicole not only out of genuine emotion, but partially out of obligation, since she is "not strong." This is the first overt hint that Nicole has problems.

The world does not crumble at once, however. Dick can still throw a fine, even hilarious party, initiating Rosemary into the world of all night revelries. But at the train station, the world unravels further. Beyond Abe's accusations that the Divers are not fun anymore, there is the murder, which can be viewed on several levels. In an attempt to avoid some truth that existed between Abe and herself, Nicole goes over to visit with the murderer. Once again, an attempt to cover up the truth leads to violence, as with the duel after the dinner party. Also, metaphorically, Maria Wallis, an American, commits a murder against a European, a symbol of the social relations between the continents. Finally, the importance of civility reappears. Though half joking, Nicole feels vindicated and relieved that the reason Maria snubbed her was that she was planning her murder. She cares nothing for the situation that led to someone's death, only of her own social status.

Even Dick himself seems to crumble. Dick's attempt to help Maria Wallis is revealed as showing off for Rosemary. He becomes wildly jealous when he learns of her affair on the train. He even has money trouble. Though Fitzgerald leaves us to wonder what his predicament is (it is revealed later that he is withdrawing Nicole's money and not his own), the mystery of it effectively makes us reconsider our affection for Dick. Dick then makes a conscious turn in his life in trying to find Rosemary. He turns away from his practiced perfection and toward a new desperation. The fact that he eyes the bottles while he talks to Rosemary on the phone connects this new phase of his life with liquor, foreshadowing his imminent alcoholism. Finally, the childish quality of Rosemary's letter, which tells how she loves someone else, has the effect of making her seem younger and making Dick's affection for her all the more ridiculous.

The shady fellow who approaches Dick has two important functions. On the one hand, he and his cartoon both embody and verbalize the new economic American imperialism discussed in the previous section. This man becomes connected with the idea of America, and also with the status of Dick's marriage: this character appears in the book just twice, both times at crucial moments in his marriage. Here, the man appears at the moment Dick decides to pursue his affair with Rosemary. Later, he will appear as Dick arranges for his divorce from Nicole. While in this scene Dick spurns him, in the latter one he welcomes the man's presence. One can read this change in Dick as demonstrating a deeper change in his character. This shows attitudes toward his own gentility and his separation from America. In this scene, maintaining his strength despite his intended affair, Dick turns the man away.

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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

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5 out of 6 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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