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Unit 15(chapters 9-13)

(individual reading; composition: The most vital problems of the novel Tender is the night


Revision of the third book.

1.Think over the questions and reveal your point of view.

What is important about the title?

What are the conflicts in Tender is the Night? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) are in this novel?

How does F. Scott Fitzgerald reveal character in Tender is the Night?

What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?

What are some symbols in Tender is the Night? How do they relate to the plot and characters?

Is Dr. Dick Divers consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?

Do you find the characters likable? Would you want to meet the characters?

Does the story end the way you expected? How? Why?

What is the central/primary purpose of the novel? Is the purpose important or meaningful?

Is Dr. Dick Divers a strong character?

How essential is the setting to the story? Could the novel have taken place anywhere else? In any other time?

What is the role of women in the text? Is love relevant? Are relationships meaningful?

How does Tender is the Night compare with The Great Gatsby?

2. Read the review of the novel and answer the questions:

What is the structure of the critical article?

Do you share the author’s opinion about the novel? Why?

1930, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald's infamous wife, was admitted to a French sanatorium. By 1932, she would be declared schizophrenic, and her husband--his supposed masterwork, The Great Gatsby, seven years behind him--would be deep in the process of writing Tender is the Night, the story of a charming, young psychiatrist who marries his emotionally disturbed patient.

Beyond the Basics: Tender is the Night
The synchronicity is tempting: we're tempted to look at Tender as the Night as a thinly-veiled gloss on the autobiographical dirt of the Fitzgerald marriage. But we can also look at the book as something larger: as a swan song for the Jazz Age, for the American idealism that fueled Gatsby, and for the illusions of everlasting love.

At the center of Tender is the Night are Dick and Nicole Diver, the former the psychiatrist and the latter the patient. The novel charts, in a zig-zag fashion, their relationship from its beginning to its end, correlated with the ascent of Nicole--from hopeless neurotic to seemingly independent young woman--and the descent of Dick--from promising, charming socialite to bitterly ironic drunk.

As Great Novels tend to do, Tender is the Night tries to be more than just the simple story of the characters: much is made here about class and its pretensions (Mary North and Nicole Diver's sister both defer outrageously to titles and ceremony, and in one fairly good sequence Dick Diver intimidates a policeman by asserting that the woman he's just arrested is related to America's " Lord Henry Ford"), and much is equally made about the World War and its aftermath, particularly about Dick Diver's non-role in the fighting.

Additionally, it's probably the case that Fitzgerald wants to make some point about the relationship of America to the Old World: virtually the entire book takes place overseas, from Nice to Zurich to Rome, and the most charged scenes all involve clashes between the befuddled, braggart Americans and the codified restraint (or lack thereof) of the Europeans.

But in the book, all of this remains in the background, accent notes to the main themes of marriage and its ethical compromises. The Divers' marriage is founded, from the start, on questionable ethical grounds: Nicole Diver, in her disorder, latches onto a photo of Dick and begins writing him long, jumbled, flattering letters. He, appropriately flattered, disregards both professional ethics and the advice of his colleagues by marrying the girl.

Conflict and Beginning in the Middle: Tender is the Night

Thus begins their long relationship and series of jaunts across Europe, punctuated by occasional flares of conflict: her family's money, his drinking, and the ever-present specter of infidelity and its flip-side: a weakening sense of loyalty to the decisions of one's past.

All of this sounds fine, except that Fitzgerald makes the early, book-compromising decision to begin his story smack in the middle of the marriage, rather than at its outset. This allows him to achieve some nice effects, true: the characters who come to dominate the latter part of the book--Latin self-made man Tommy Barban, wide-eyed and Diver-captivated ingé nue Rosemary Hoyt--are introduced early and given an appropriately lingering sense of menace, the slow dissolution and drunken death of Abe North provides some good foreshadowing, and we're allowed to see through Rosemary's eyes exactly what's so captivating about Dick Diver in comparison to the rest of the expatriate cast.

However, the novel's chronology also forces an uncomfortable shift midway through the book (when we suddenly realize that the book is about Dick, not Rosemary), and Fitzgerald seems to feel the need to race through the early years of the Diver marriage in order to catch up to the threads of the Rosemary plot, still dangling in the wind where he left them before departing on his extended flashback.

The result is that Tender is the Night, in addition to resembling the life of its author, also tends to resemble the life of its lead character: events appear both beautiful and blurred. Somewhere in the haze is the sense that something very significant and powerful is being stated about marriage, but the exact point at which it clearly comes through (and the exact point at which the scales of the Divers' fortunes tip) isn't so easy to find. Although this is not, ultimately, a flaw on the book's part--even drunken wisdom is wisdom--it does feel like a missed opportunity on Fitzgerald's part, a chance for analysis rather than self-destructive sentiment.

Still: whatever the weaknesses of the book's sober moments, Fitzgerald can write a wonderful, witty, icily drunken party scene. And, even if the book is a haze, it's often a beautiful haze, a drunkard's ode to a drunkard's life, a sentimentalist's ode to the progressive destruction of sentimentality that is marriage. Due to its garbled chronology and its reluctance to spell out certain critical elements of its plot, Tender is the Night misses many of the most interesting marks it aims at. But all the same, there's a special beauty even in a stumbling attempt.

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