Literature Study GuidesTender Is The NightBook 2 Chapters 22 23 Summary

Tender Is the Night | Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Tender Is the Night | Book 2, Chapters 22–23 | Summary



Book 2, Chapter 22

At dinner with Collis Clay, Dick is in a foul mood. He uncharacteristically tries to pick a fight with Italians by talking loudly about his dislike of them. No one takes the bait, and Collis disagrees with him. But for Dick, Rome has forever been ruined because it is "the end of his dream of Rosemary." As he thinks this, he gets a note from Rosemary suggesting he come to her room. He sends it back to her, telling the boy, "Tell Miss Hoyt you couldn't find me."

As Collis and Dick move through the streets of Rome, Dick continues his running tirade against Romans. He drinks heavily and picks a fight with an orchestra leader at the restaurant where they dine.

His bad mood lifts a bit when he notices a beautiful young English girl, and she returns his glances and agrees to dance with him. Dick continues drinking, and soon Collis leaves. Then the girl he has admired leaves, and he is alone.

Dick's bad mood returns, and soon he is fighting with cab drivers over the fare they want to charge for taking him back to the hotel. Dick becomes so incensed he slaps someone on the face and is soon being beaten and then taken to the police station. The captain decides he will let him go, but when Dick sees the man who had brought him to the station, he punches him. Now he is badly beaten and dragged to a jail cell, calling out for someone to go find Baby at the Excelsior Hotel to come to his rescue.

Book 2, Chapter 23

At 4:00 in the morning Baby Warren is awakened by the concierge and told Dick is in jail and badly hurt. She gets dressed and quickly goes down to the lobby, where the concierge has a chauffeur ready to drive her to the jail. She hears Dick yelling as soon as she arrives and follows his voice to a courtyard. He tells her his eye has been put out, and she becomes furious. But the men on duty say they can do nothing without orders.

Baby goes to the American embassy, but the official there tells her nothing can be done until 9:00 in the morning, when the consulate will be able to help her. The strange young man is immune to Baby's anger and pleas. The most he will do for her is give her the address of the consulate and the name and contact information for a doctor.

Next Baby thinks of seeking Collis Clay's help. She goes to his hotel, and when the woman on duty takes her up to his room, she finds Collis naked on his bed. Although he is embarrassed, he quickly pulls himself together and goes with her to the jail. Baby's plan is for Collis to stay with Dick and protect him while she goes to the consulate and gets the doctor. At the consulate, Baby's rage and indignation finally get results, as the consul caves in and orders the vice-consul to help her.

The vice-consul, named Swanson, accompanies Dick and Collis to court. Dick likes Swanson, and they joke together a bit. After a few minutes in the courtroom, Dick is told he is free to go, as "the court considered him punished enough." Dick tries to take exception to that, but Collis and the lawyer convince him to settle down and accept the outcome.

Baby and the doctor are waiting in a taxi, and Dick is tended to and dosed with morphine in his hotel room. Baby arranges for a nurse to stay with him and feels satisfied "they now possessed a moral superiority over him for as long as he proved of any use."


As Dick's unraveling is complete, he literally turns into the stereotypical "ugly American." It is a stark contrast to the urbane, sophisticated Dick of just a few years ago, the Dick who smoothed over everyone else's problems, never causing them. It is a significant contrast the rather dull-witted Collis Clay—once no rival at all to Dick—looks like the much better man in these chapters, signifying just how low Dick has sunk.

The only time Dick recovers any semblance of himself during the long alcohol-fueled night is when he spies a young English girl who seems to find him attractive. She is young; she is blond. This is how Dick likes his women. This is familiar territory to him. What is not familiar, however, is she suddenly disappears rather than needing to stay around him. It is the final straw for Dick's demise that night. He no longer feels like a man, so he suddenly takes on a combative, macho personality. His charm has left him, and what is left in its place is terrible, and violent.

Baby sees Dick has finally become vulnerable. Since this is something she will never be, she feels victorious in her "moral superiority." Perhaps the Warren money has never made Dick completely submissive, but her knowledge of this scandalous evening gives her the power she needs.

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