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MonkeyNotes-Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Notes

This section starts with the beginning of the end for the Divers. At the early stages of the disintegration, Franz's wife is very perceptive about the Divers' weaknesses; she is also personally affronted by Nicole's treatment of her. A true manipulator, she cleverly plants the seeds of doubt in her husbandís mind about Dick and his wife. Dick, however, does most of the damage himself as he slides slowly to disaster. Fitzgerald charts his deterioration with clear detail, with each new scene showing Dick tripping up just a little bit more.

As Dick deteriorates throughout book three, Nicole ironically gets stronger. After he pathetically goes off in pursuit of Rosemary one last time, Nicole acknowledges that she is through with her husband and ready to have an affair, which she pursues with a vengeance. She writes Tommy Barban a provocative letter, allows him to hold her, and then goes off to a little hotel on the coast with him. When confronted by her husband, Nicole accuses Dick of not caring for her for a long time and admits that she is fond of Tommy. Dick takes the news calmly; but his calmness rattles Nicole. At the end of the book, Nicole is still not whole. She is strong enough to admit that she has gotten a lot from her marriage to Dick, telling Baby that there were six good years; but she is pushed about by Tommy and not fully sure of herself and what she is doing.

The novel starts as it begins -- at the beach; but things are totally different. Rosemary is no longer part of the book; Nicole has grown strong enough to pursue her own happiness, entering into an affair with Tommy and asking for a divorce; Dick has totally degenerated from a brilliant and promising psychiatrist into alcoholic uselessness. It is definitely a tragic ending for Dick, but Nicole is not really happy either. As she watches Dick bless the beach and wander away from Tarmes and her forever, she suddenly has cold feet and wants to go to Dick; Tommy, however, holds her back.


Fitzgerald gives Dick several scenes where he might rally towards the end of the book, but then allows him to fail each time. Dick nobly confesses to Nicole that he has gone off to Provence to see Rosemary; but he is still not really truthful with his wife about what has happened, nor apologetic. Dick is allowed to be a savior one more time, going to the aid of Mary and Caroline, who have been put in jail; but in the process he uses his friend Gausse, because Dick does not have enough money to get the women out. He also tells outrageously unnecessary lies in the process of freeing them. Lastly, he is cruel to Mary on the terrace of the hotel in the last scene; Dick cynically uses his powers of attracting females to make a fool of her for his own amusement.

Finally, Dick ends up living back in America, the place he said he would never visit again after his fatherís death. Ironically, he settles in upstate New York, just like his father had done. He is also trying to be a "good" man like his father, but fails miserably, eventually abandoning his own children. At one point Dick is in Geneva, New York, a poor shadow of Switzerland; it is obvious that he is trying to recapture the previous glory of his life in Zurich, but he cannot do it. He then wanders from place to place, having things fall apart in increasingly pathetic ways. In the last line, Nicole indicates that she does not even know exactly where he is; but she has the sense that Dick has finally failed completely.

In spite of the tragic ending, there are several scenes of levity beneath the tragedy of book three. One of the book's more comic scenes is during the tryst between Tommy and Nicole in the small beach hotel; the two of them enact a version of the drama going on outside the hotel between the sailors and their "girlfriends." The action moves back and forth, and it is clear that the sordidness of the sailors/tramps is not unlike the sordidness of Tommy/Nicole. When Dick is called to come to the aid of Lady Caroline and Mary, the scene in the jail is also humorous, as Caroline claims that she and Mary have done nothing wrong in dressing like men and falsely coaxing women into their hotel room. Fitzgerald is definitely being very bold to present different views of sexuality in almost humorous terms. Throughout the book, he has proven that he is a realistic writer who is advanced for his times.

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