Tender Is the Night | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Tender Is the Night | Book 2, Chapter 13 | Summary

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Summary

In Gstaad Nicole and Dick Diver are with Baby Warren and two suitors she has brought along. Nicole desperately wants Dick to be happy, and descends into baby talk to try to get him to relax and laugh, saying, "Why don't you meet some of these ickle durls and dance with them." But as was made clear in the last chapter, he is careful not to let her see him looking at younger women—or doing anything that might make her snap—and the effort is sapping his vitality.

Dick's friend Franz Gregorovius is coming to visit with Dick for one day of the holidays, and Dick is looking forward to seeing him. When Franz arrives, he gets right down to business. He has come to see if Dick might be interested in going in together to take over a clinic in Zurich. Baby eavesdrops on their conversation and offers her opinion that it is a good idea. Dick does not give a definitive answer, mostly enraged at Baby's interference, but does say he could see him and Nicole established in Zurich.

Throughout the evening, Dick watches for "a special girl." He has a roving eye, although he hides it from Nicole. When he spies the girl one last time at the end of the evening, however, he has lost interest.

By the time Franz leaves Gstaad, Dick has made up his mind. He decides to accept the proposition.

Analysis

Nicole's baby talk is an odd thing. The only other time baby talk is used in the novel is in Book 1, at the showing of Daddy's Girl in Paris arranged by Rosemary. In that case it is not clear who is doing the talking, but now it seems likely it was Nicole, in one of the first-person narration snippets that, for some reason, Fitzgerald chooses not to set off from the rest of the text in any way. Since the movie shows an idealized father-daughter relationship, something Nicole did not have, this could signal the pressure point leading in part to her breakdown in the hotel bathroom just days later. Here, in this chapter, Nicole seems to be healthy, so the reader is unsure whether the baby talk is a clue about her mental health or Dick's.

The timing of Franz's offer seems ideal in providing a turning point for Dick's life. He needs to feel like he is doing important work; he needs a change of climate. It's interesting the move will return him and Nicole to the place they first met. Perhaps he wishes in his subconscious the happiness of those days might also be restored to them.

One statement made by Dick to Franz is important to notice and remember. He says: "Franz, do you think after sitting up all night drinking beer, you can go back and convince our patients that you have any character?" It is an important bit of foreshadowing.

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