Tender is the Night
Nicole is awakened early the next morning by a French police officer looking for Abe North. She denies any involvement and leaves to shop with Rosemary. Upon their return to the hotel, they find Dick excited about a phone call he just received from Abe. Abe had not left the country, had been robbed, and had accused a black man of the robbery. A race riot ensued. Nicole reminisces on the fine times they had had in the past with Abe, remembering how nice he was. The three of them lunch downstairs beside a group of women who had lost men in the war. The refrain about pulling down the curtain reverberates through Dick's mind.
The scene shifts to a very drunk Abe in the Ritz bar, telling the bartender he wants to go home to America. Abe hears that Jules Peterson, a black man, has come to the bar looking for him but cannot be admitted. The scene shifts to Dick knocking on Rosemary's door at the hotel. They talk and kiss several times when a knock comes at the door. Abe and Jules Peterson, a shoemaker, burst in. Peterson had testified as a witness that money had been stolen from Abe, and the police had arrested a prominent black restaurateur. He had angered many people in doing so. Dick orders Abe to leave and not to return unless he agrees not to drink. Abe's goodbye rings with finality.
Dick and Rosemary kiss and when Rosemary returns to her room, she finds Peterson stretched out dead on her bed, killed by one of the men he had angered. She screams for Dick who immediately realizes that this incident would stain Rosemary's career. He removes the body from the room and calls the manager to have the body removed without questions. Because of Dick's former charms, the manager agrees. Rosemary looks at him with great admiration, but more problems loom ahead. Rosemary hears Nicole screaming from the other room and realizes that this is what Violet McKisco had seen in the Diver bathroom in the Riviera.
The sequence of events leading up to and including the murder of Jules Peterson contains a number of interesting items, but perhaps the most notable among them is the utter disregard for the life of Mr. Peterson or the other blacks harmed. The episode of Jules Peterson is treated as one to which the Americans must respond to save their reputations, not as a tragic incident. Abe, caught up in his own dissolution, cares little for the people he has harmed. He immediately disappears when Dick tells him to do so, leaving Peterson to die.
The death occurs in the midst of Rosemary and Dick's stolen kisses, and the violence somehow symbolizes the violence that Dick is inflicting on his marriage and his respectability. When they finally discover the body, Dick's sole intention is to save their reputations. He achieves this end quite expeditiously, by means of charms he had "expended" on the manager in the past.
The prevailing sentiments at that time among people of the Divers' class were that people of African descent were inferior (Peterson is not even allowed in the Ritz Bar). Yet Peterson's blackness is not the sole reason that they have no regard for his life--the Divers seem to have little regard for anyone's lives but their own. Just as Nicole's final thoughts on Maria Wallis lingered on social conventions rather than the fact that Maria had shot and killed someone, so too this murder is received only in terms of its relationship with the Divers' social status.
The Divers do suffer from this violence, though. Fitzgerald concludes Book 1 with the revelation of Nicole's mental instability. The ideal world, which had been so painstakingly acted out has finally crumbled. The terrible Diver secret is revealed to Rosemary and the reader both.
At this point both Rosemary's perspective and a strict adherence to chronology lose their importance and are terminated. Through Rosemary's eyes, we met the Divers, loved them and their world and then watched as the perfection of their world dissolved. Book 1 is chilling and beautiful in the way it dispenses secrets and carries the action forward. Now it remains to finish the story, filling in its beginning and then continuing with the end.