Literature Study GuidesTender Is The NightBook 2 Chapters 19 21 Summary

Tender Is the Night | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Tender Is the Night | Book 2, Chapters 19–21 | Summary

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Summary

Book 2, Chapter 19

Dick retrieves his father's body in Buffalo and then takes it to Virginia for burial "among a hundred Divers, Dorseys, and Hunters." Dick finds solace in leaving his father there, but he does not think he himself will ever come back. He says "good-by, all my fathers."

Traveling on the same ship back across the Atlantic are the McKiscos, Albert and Violet. Buoyed by a new confidence following his duel with Barban, Albert has become a popular novelist. Dick enjoys the change in Albert, "the disappearance of the man's annoying sense of inferiority," and the two have good conversations. Violet, too, is changed for the better.

The McKiscos disembark at Gibraltar, but Dick continues on to Naples and then goes on to Rome by train. As soon as he enters his hotel, he sees Rosemary—for the first time in four years—who is in the city filming her newest movie. They exchange pleasantries, and Rosemary instructs him to call her the next afternoon.

Dick is exhausted and sleeps deeply until well past noon the next day. Upon awakening, he examines his feelings about Rosemary. He is a realist and knows she has probably had lovers and he is probably much less attractive to her than he was before. Nevertheless, he dresses carefully and calls Rosemary around 3:00 p.m. She asks him to come to her room. He stops at the bar for a drink first and there encounters Collis Clay, who is still following Rosemary around when he can. He is studying architecture in Florence and has come to Rome for the weekend.

Book 2, Chapter 20

Arriving at Rosemary's room, Dick greets her with a compliment about her beauty. She is glad he looks much more rested than when she saw him earlier. They begin exchanging news of their lives, but then the phone rings. She finishes the call, but it rings again. When that call ends, Rosemary lowers the lights. She is wearing black pajamas, and they begin kissing passionately. After another phone call, they end up in bed but do not make love.

Dick questions her about her love life. She claims she is still pure. Dick suggests they take a walk in a garden, so they do. She already has plans for the evening, so Dick dines alone and goes to bed early. He meets Rosemary very early in the morning, to go with her to her set. He watches the actors and actresses work and notices the male star, Nicotera, seems especially infatuated with Rosemary.

Dick and Rosemary eat lunch together. Both have drinks, and when they return to the hotel, they finally consummate their love.

Book 2, Chapter 21

Rosemary again has dinner plans, so Dick is on his own. He meets Collis Clay in the hotel lobby and has a drink with him. Dick then runs into Baby Warren, and they dine together. He fills her in on Nicole's latest breakdown, and she wonders if it might be time to remove Nicole from the environment of the clinic, suggesting the Divers move to London. She also questions Dick about leaving Nicole alone, and he reminds her he has been at his father's funeral.

When Baby and Dick move to another area of the hotel after eating, Collis Clay joins them. Uncomfortable continuing to talk about Nicole in front of Collis, Dick turns the conversation to questions about Baby, asking her why she doesn't marry. Then he takes her to her hotel.

The next day Rosemary takes Dick to lunch. They return to the hotel and find Nicotera in Rosemary's sitting room. She dismisses him, but Dick suggests they go to his room. He again questions her about her love life, and she gives some details but says she has never really loved anyone but Dick. Since Dick knows in his heart neither of them is in love with the other, it's not clear why he keeps demanding this information.

Soon Nicotera calls Rosemary in Dick's room, and he responds with jealousy. He asks her to do without Nicotera as long as he is around, but she says, "It's difficult." She goes on to explain Nicotera wants to marry her—which, she points out, Dick has never asked her to do—and she is very confused. Dick decides for sure "he [isn't] going to be in love with her again." He begins to dress in his evening clothes and refuses to have any more exchanges with her beyond bidding her goodbye and says, "I don't seem to bring people happiness anymore."

Analysis

By the end of Chapter 21 Dick is feeling pretty sorry for himself. The series of losses he has experienced have been juxtaposed with seeing the success Albert McKisco, of all people, has made of his life. Although he now likes Albert, it no doubt makes Dick's own unremarkable existence seem more pitiful to him.

Then, when he sees Rosemary and she comments (as Tommy Barban did) about how tired he looks, his ego is dealt another blow. Suddenly it seems safer to focus on the fact he really does love Nicole, "his girl," even though he makes love to Rosemary.

It is especially creepy when Dick thinks about Rosemary as similar to his daughter, Topsy. What is this fascination he has with younger women? Why does he refer to his time with Rosemary as "self-indulgence," without any real love behind it? Certainly Dick's narcissism demands people love him and need him; perhaps he believes only young or damaged women will fit this bill. When it becomes clear to him Rosemary does not find him as desirable as the youthful Nicotera, his jealousy is for the loss of her attention and need for him—and his jealousy over Nicotera's youthful good looks and vitality—more than anything else.

In one of the funniest moments in the novel, as Dick talks to Baby about Nicole, she suggests, "it could be arranged" to hook Nicole up with "somebody else." Baby is so incredibly controlling she can never give herself fully over to a man, so she is insensitive to anyone's need to do that. Dick returns the humorous barb by saying to her in response to her claim of making "very few big mistakes" that she has made "only the very big ones." Yet, there is no rancor as Dick and Baby say farewell to each other. They both understand and accept each other, and something about the interchange is more honest than all the intrigue Dick has with others.

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