Literature Study GuidesTender Is The NightBook 1 Chapters 12 15 Summary

Tender Is the Night | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Tender Is the Night | Book 1, Chapters 12–15 | Summary



Book 1, Chapter 12

This chapter begins in a restaurant in Paris, where Dick, Rosemary, the Norths, and "two young French musicians" are waiting for Nicole's arrival. They are observing the other diners, to see if Dick's statement is true that no American man besides him has "repose," which he defines as the ability to keep one's hands from one's face.

When a famous American general enters, Abe thinks it is a safe bet this man has repose. But he is wrong. As usual, Rosemary's adoration of Dick increases. Indeed, her satisfaction with being in the Divers' inner circle is complete. Even though she is from strictly middle-class stock, and Nicole and Mary North both come from more storied bloodlines, she feels camaraderie with them since "they were all happy to exist in a man's world."

After lunch Rosemary goes to a phone at the back of the restaurant and calls Franco-American Films to arrange for a private viewing of Daddy's Girl later in the week. While there, she hears an intimate exchange between Dick and Nicole, which moves her deeply. Then she and Nicole go shopping together, with Rosemary looking at her in a new way. She thinks about how Nicole's wealth, inherited rather than earned as Rosemary's money is, affects her personality and behavior. When 4:00 arrives, the time of the sexual tryst Dick and Nicole arranged at the restaurant when Rosemary overheard them, she wonders why Nicole doesn't rush to be there. Then she feels a pang of jealousy as Nicole departs to go to him.

Book 1, Chapter 13

In this chapter the Divers, the Norths, and Rosemary are visiting French battle sites from World War I. Rosemary has become completely besotted with Dick and longs to speak to her practical mother about what is going on in her heart. She becomes emotional at everything they see, but her emotions seem mixed up. Nicole, too, is "abstracted" and apparently wrapped up in the guidebooks Dick has brought. For his part, Dick is orchestrating everything "until it bore a faint resemblance to one of his own parties."

Book 1, Chapter 14

Back in Paris Nicole Diver is too tired to do anything but go back to the hotel. Rosemary's spirits are lifted by Nicole's absence. The rest of the party goes to the Decorative Art Exposition and then to a houseboat café on the Seine. Abe North has been steadily drinking all day, and Rosemary realizes for the first time he might have a problem with alcohol. He resists the idea of going back to the hotel, and pours champagne in Rosemary's glass. Admitting she had her 18th birthday the previous day, Rosemary drinks it.

Dick Diver is excited at the possibility of throwing her a birthday party the following evening. Again, he and Mary North try to get Abe to leave, but he refuses. So Dick and Rosemary say their goodbyes.

Book 1, Chapter 15

Abe has referred to Dick's "scientific treatise" in the last chapter, which Dick says he may abandon, so Rosemary questions him about it in the taxi they take to the hotel. It turns out she has no knowledge of his professional life. He tells her he is a medical doctor who is not practicing at the moment.

Rosemary presents herself to Dick to be kissed, and he finally succumbs. Then she announces, "I've decided to give you up." He is startled, but then continues to kiss her several more times, realizing he does not particularly enjoy it, finding her immature.

Back at the hotel Rosemary invites Dick into her room and tries to get him to take her virginity. Now he is truly astonished, blames it on the champagne, and advises her he loves Nicole and she is simply too young for him. When she weeps he feels somewhat lost but holds steadfast in his decision and tells her they should forget this scene ever happened. Rosemary finally gives up, and after he leaves she sits and brushes her hair until her arms ache.


When the narrator directly states a theme of the novel in Chapter 12—the patriarchal submission of women to men—he also comments on it. He points out not all women of the time were like Mary, Rosemary, and Nicole and the variety in their backgrounds further shows it is not a class thing, not an "accident of birth." He doesn't seem to approve of women who must find the right man to exist happily, whether it is as "good courtesans or good wives." He stabs at the idea again in the next chapter when he says about Rosemary: "Like most women she liked to be told how she should feel."

Fitzgerald continues to juxtapose the women in these chapters, but particularly Rosemary and Nicole. When the two women go shopping, Rosemary spends carefully and thinks about how hard it has been to earn her money; she contracted pneumonia because she continued working even with a high fever. Nicole spends extravagantly, buying luxury items for herself and her friends. She compares Rosemary staying in the pool to her sister Baby's decision to dance all night during an appendicitis attack because she had "three of the royal princes on her dance card."

The next day while touring the World War I battle sites, Rosemary is weepy and completely focused on her growing love for Dick. Nicole is "abstracted," removed from the reality around her. She who has Dick's love seems to take it for granted, perhaps even bored with his starring role as the orchestrator of all their parties, which this outing faintly resembles. The point seems driven home when Nicole begs off the rest of the day's activities, preferring to go to the hotel.

That night when Abe's drinking problem is made clear, the Abe of the night of the duel seems to have disappeared. His problem seems to be a long-term one; Mary says things "that no longer had a meaning for her" and knows she cannot "lead him a step out of his path," and Dick has "long lost hope" in his friend.

Several important things are layered into Rosemary's professions of love for Dick that night. In the cab she seems to want to compare him to her father: "My father was a doctor too." He is, in fact, old enough to be her father; is this a role she needs Dick to play, just as Nicole does? Then as Rosemary gets incredibly dramatic after kissing him, Dick calls her out for being an actress. Is her infatuation with him, her plan to lose her virginity to him, actually just some sort of fantasy script in her head? This is highly likely and confirmed by her own thoughts: "She was calling on things she had read, seen, dreamed ... she knew too that it was one of her greatest rôles and she flung herself into it more passionately." It is to Dick's credit that he does not take advantage of her this night and uses his "hospital patter" to try to snap her back into reality: "So many people are going to love you and it might be nice to meet your first love all intact, emotionally too."

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