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MonkeyNotes-Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Book two presents several intentional comparisons and contrasts: Tommy Barban acts out his wildest ideas, while Dick only fantasizes and counters himself before he makes a move. Franz and his wife may seem "dull," but are quite stable in comparison to Nicole and Dick. Baby Warren, Nicole’s socialite sister, is the picture of strength in comparison to Nicole; she is also shown to be a more clever manipulator than Dick himself. Rosemary is the picture of youth and innocence in contrast to the manipulative Warren sisters.

Nicole and Dick never directly talk of his womanizing or her experience with her father, but it is clear why they are together, how it happened, why they are "suited" for each other, and how they are perfectly unhappy as a married couple. Nicole wants constant attention, and Dick refuses to give it. When he opens the clinic, he seems to submerse himself in work to escape his home life. Nicole complains of feeling lonely. No longer infatuated with his wife, Dick is attracted to other women and cannot resist temptation. Nicole sees her husband eyeing other women, including Rosemary, and her sense of betrayal is, of course, deep. Dick tries to rationalize his behavior since he feels so trapped by the clinic, the Warren money, and Nicole’s craziness. Neither husband nor wife is willing to directly tackle problems; instead, Nicole escapes into her fits, and Dick escapes into his alcohol and shallow affairs.


After the scene at the fair, followed by the car accident, Dick feels more separated from Nicole than ever. He knows he has to get away, and uses a conference in Munich as the excuse. While there, he admits, like a little boy, that he wants only to play, dream, and have fun. He does, however, own up to some responsibility with his father. Dick claims he loved the man, but as he was sick and dying, he made no attempt to go and see him. He does feel bad when he dies, especially knowing that he was alone. Dick reacts by going to New York immediately and making the funeral arrangements. On the return trip, he shows how far he has slipped. Rather than return to Nicole, he goes in search of Rosemary in Rome. Although he admits he does not love her, he has an affair with her and also plays the jealous lover. The drunken jail incident is the confirmation of his downhill slide: he has no self-realization at all, and Baby Warren has him at her mercy, a fact that delights her. Dick is dramatically righteous, out of line, and so rude to Collis that suddenly the dull boy looks like a paragon of virtue, while the protagonist appears ridiculous. The entire book prepares the reader for Dick’s rapid decline in book three, the final section of the novel.

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