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Tender is the Night

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Chapters 17-21

Summary Chapters 17-21


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.

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