Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Rosemary Hoyt is just eighteen years old, dewy fresh and full of the promise of beautiful maturity. In spite of her youth, she is already a famous actor, and her film Daddy’s Girl is all the rage. She has traveled to the south of France with her mother for a rest after having become very ill as a result of her diving repeatedly into a Venice canal during the shooting of the motion picture.
At the beach, Rosemary meets Dick Diver and suddenly realizes that she is in love. After she becomes well acquainted with the Divers, she also comes to like Diver’s wife, Nicole, a strikingly beautiful woman, and Dick and Nicole’s two children. Rosemary’s mother approves of Dick. At one of the Divers’s famous parties, Rosemary tells Dick outright that she loves him, but he makes light of her declaration.
During the party another guest, Mrs. McKisco, sees Nicole behaving hysterically in the bathroom, and on the way home she tries to talk about it with her husband and Tommy Barban, a war hero. Tommy makes her keep silent. Resenting Tommy’s interference, Mr. McKisco provokes a quarrel with him that ends in a duel in which several shots are exchanged but no one is hurt. Rosemary is greatly moved by the incident.
Rosemary travels to Paris with the Divers, where they all attend a round of parties and tours. She makes frequent advances to Dick, but he puts her off, apathetically, until one day a young college man tells of an...
(The entire section is 1273 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Nine years elapsed between the publication of The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night, and during that time Fitzgerald worked on his fourth novel in several stages, completing the final version in about a year. It is an ambitious novel, a multilayered work which charts the moral and psychological decline of Dick Diver, a young and promising American psychiatrist, set against the background of American expatriates in Europe during the 1920’s. In a sense, Fitzgerald is tracing two parallel cases of decay—an individual’s and a generation’s.
Tender Is the Night is divided into three books and covers the years 1925 through 1929. Dick and Nicole Diver are at the center of an amusing circle of friends, including the alcoholic composer Abe North, who has never fulfilled his early promise, and the sinister mercenary Tommy Barban, who is in love with Nicole. Through a flashback, Fitzgerald reveals that Nicole was originally Dick’s patient, placed in his care after being traumatized by being raped by her father.
It is an essential part of Dick Diver’s personality to feel loved and needed, and this causes him to marry Nicole. The dual pressures of being Nicole’s husband and her doctor, combined with the lure of Nicole’s inherited fortune, undermine Dick’s dedication to his work. Using Nicole’s money, Dick becomes partner in a psychiatric clinic in the Swiss Alps but is unable to concentrate on his duties. In...
(The entire section is 896 words.)
Tender Is the Night opens in 1925 at the Gausse’s Hotel in the French coastal town of Tarmes. Although narrated in the third person, the early chapters of the novel are told through the eyes of the seventeen- year-old actress Rosemary Hoyt. While visiting Tarmes with her mother, Mrs. Elsie Speers, she meets several Americans who are vacationing at the resort, including Dick Diver, a married man twice her age. She immediately falls in love with him and proclaims that love to her mother, who actively encourages her daughter to pursue Diver. Thus the stage is set for the affair that ultimately fuels the novel’s tension.
Later that evening, Rosemary is invited to a party at the Divers.’ During the party, Mrs. McKisco becomes privy to a scene in the bathroom between Dick and Nicole that hints at some kind of serious problem. After the party, a discussion between Albert McKisco and Tommy Barban about that incident turns ugly, with Barban defending the honor of the Divers, and the two men agree to a duel. Although the men do not harm one another, the duel highlights the passions they have for the Divers and the couple’s status with their friends.
Rosemary joins the group as they venture to Paris the next day. While in Paris, Rosemary confesses her love to Dick. Although Rosemary begs Dick to have sex with her, Dick refuses, and their relationship remains largely platonic, though their feelings for one another continue...
(The entire section is 1857 words.)