Tender is the Night

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Writing Help

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing Help Suggested Essay Topics

Who is the main character in the novel? Is it Dick, Nicole, both, neither?

All signs seem to point to Dick as the main character of the novel, not the least of which is the fact that Fitzgerald intended to name the book Dick Diver. Certainly, Dick's concerns and development seem to be the focal point of the work. Fitzgerald set out to write the portrait of such a man. And yet a case can be made that Nicole is the main character and that Dick is important only to the extent that he helps Nicole. As the focus of Dick's life work, she achieves an importance that Dick does not. She moves from being an enigmatic character, to an unhealthy character, and then to a healthy one. Certainly the shift to her point of view at the end of the novel lends credence to this thesis. It is she, cured, with whom we remain at the close of the book, she whose change we are left to witness. Dick mysteriously dissolves. If nothing else, the book is more about the two of them and their life together than it is about just one of them.

Fitzgerald always regretted the chronology he chose for the book and even rewrote it after publication, intending for the straightforward telling of events to be the final manuscript. Which way would the book have been more effective?

Does Dick cure Nicole?

Does Dick love Rosemary? If so, in what way? If not, why does he have an affair with her?

Does Nicole love Tommy Barban? If so, in what way? If not, why does she marry him?

To what extent is Baby Warren in control of her sister's life?

To what extent does the ending of the novel, with Dick vanishing in America, resolve problems that the novel established? Is it a good ending? If so, why? If not, why not and how could it have been better?

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