Literature Study GuidesTender Is The NightBook 2 Chapters 16 18 Summary

Tender Is the Night | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Tender Is the Night | Book 2, Chapters 16–18 | Summary



Book 2, Chapter 16

Three months after Nicole's breakdown, Dick asks Franz for a leave of absence. He says he must get away, get some rest.

Dick flies the next week to Munich, ostensibly to attend a conference, but he plans to attend sessions as little as possible. From there he plans to travel to the Mediterranean, for pure relaxation.

Book 2, Chapter 17

While still in Munich, Dick encounters Tommy Barban. He is in the company of a prince and two other men. He and the prince have recently escaped from Russia. Tommy went there to bring the prince safely out of hiding. One of the men Tommy is with, Mr. McKibben, offers Dick a ride to Innsbruck, where they are both going the next day, but Dick declines.

Dick learns from Tommy that Abe North has just died—"beaten to death in a speakeasy in New York." Dick feels remorse for Abe's death and mourns the loss of his own youth.

Book 2, Chapter 18

Dick arrives in Innsbruck at dusk the next day. He thinks about the fact he is in Switzerland, as is Nicole, but he is far from her. He remembers a day on the Riviera when she said to him: "I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there'll always be the person I am to-night." Rather than sinking into sentimentalism, however, Dick reminds himself he has every right to be here, "for his soul's sake."

Dick is disgusted he has "been swallowed up like a gigolo" by Nicole's money. As the evening progresses, he admits to himself he is "in love with every pretty woman he [sees]." He tries to connect with one, but he is unsuccessful.

The next morning Dick sets out with a guide and two other men to climb a mountain. However, the weather disrupts their adventure. After eating dinner and drinking a bottle of wine, he thinks of chasing the woman from last night again, but decides to practice restraint. When he goes up to his room, he finds a telegram that has been forwarded from Nicole. It is announcing the death of his father. Dick feels very sad at the news, filled with memories of his father's goodness to him as his moral guide. He immediately makes plans to take a ship to America, and places a call to Nicole.


Dick deals with a great deal of loss in these chapters. He has lost a good friend in Abe North. He has lost his own youth and the great love he once had for his wife. He has lost his father. More than anything, however, Dick realizes he "had lost himself." Tommy's comment about him when they meet stings: "You don't look so ... jaunty as you used to, so spruce." The days when he shone like a star on the Riviera seem very long ago, and Dick finds himself once again wishing he could be loved and adored. As a result he finds himself falling in love with every woman he sees, just hoping the love might be returned.

Dick's memory of Nicole's words about loving her always are set in the backdrop of the garden, when everyone was blooming. Now they just seem to be dying. And at the end of Chapter 18 Dick is filled with regret over not always being "as good as he had intended to be."

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