AMST 246: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner

Lecture 21

 - Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, Part II


Professor Wai Chee Dimock concludes her discussion of Tender Is the Night with a biographical sketch of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald’s mental instability, the inspiration for the character of Nicole Diver. Invoking the schema of “have” and “have not,” she then shows how Fitzgerald borrows techniques from film to quicken the pace of Dick Diver’s narrative of dispossession. Dimock argues that Fitzgerald uses close-up, cross-cutting, and the speeding up of negative resolutions to strip Dick of his professional identity and to render him empty-handed at the end.

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Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner

AMST 246 - Lecture 21 - Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, Part II

Chapter 1: The Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayer [00:14:42]

Professor Wai Chee Dimock: OK, we’re going to get started. I’m coming to Leslie’s section and Merve’s section today. So I’ll be seeing a lot of you later, which I very much look forward to.  I’ll also try to read your blogs–maybe not all, but some–before I show up. So I should have some sense of who you are.  It’s a great thing that you guys are doing this.  Just a wonderful thing to have.  So I’ll see you guys later.

For now, I want to give you some biographical details that might be an interesting parallel to the body of work by Fitzgerald that we’re seeing. Last time, we already saw that Fitzgerald was married to Zelda Sayre. And she was the social center inMontgomery,Alabamawhere he was stationed.

He referred to her as the first American flapper. So obviously that has resonances for the story “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.” We know that that is where he gets part of his inspiration. And he has other stories about flappers. As we know, he has a whole collection called Flappers and Philosophers. So Zelda has been there pretty much from quite early on in the short stories.

But the work in which Zelda has the most important presence is Tender is the Night.    Some interesting details, some interesting parallels – some of you might have been surprised that Nicole refers to Dick as Captain Diver when she writes to him from the sanatorium.  It’s not very well accounted for, because Dick, in fact, did not really fight. He was considered too valuable to be lost in battle. He was inSwitzerland, and he was not in combat. But Nicole refers to him as Captain Diver.

It turns out that this is a kind of interesting personal connection to Fitzgerald’s own life and his relation to Zelda.  In the Fitzgerald collection that I was talking about last time at theUniversityofSouth Carolina, there are a couple of prized items.  One is this briefcase saying “F. Scott Fitzgerald,Fifth Avenue.”  The other is this hip flask with an inscription from it. And it turns out that this is a gift from Zelda to Scott before they were married, when they were just courting. And this is the inscription on that flask. “To 1st Lt. F. Scott Fitzgerald, 65th Infantry, Camp Sheridan, Forget-me-not, Zelda, September 13, 1918, Montgomery, Ala.”

It turns out that the military rank is a small personal detail in the courtship. The attribution of military rank that, in fact, was not really the real professional identity for Fitzgerald at any point. He was there. He was in Montgomery. He was not fighting either in Montgomery, Alabama. But she referred to him as 1st lieutenant as the more dignified title.  We’ll see that titles, whether one is referred to as Doctor or Mister, actually makes a difference in Tender Is the Night. So from the very beginning, a kind of title consciousness on the part of Fitzgerald, I guess, translated into Captain Diver in Tender Is the Night.

But that’s just a very, very small connection. The most important connections, as some of you might know, has to do with a fairly long history, a long and painful history of mental instability on the part of Zelda.  From the 1930s on, she never was not inside a clinic at some point during her career until she died. She was in and out of mental institutions, some more luxurious than others. Some not looking like a mental institution at all. So we’ll begin with those.

This is one of the first that she when to. I think it might even have been the first, called Prangins in Switzerland. And we’ll see a picture of her room there. That was in 1930. As you can see, almost like a hotel room, not looking like the ideal of a mental institution, certainly. Not the place where Darl would go to when he goes to Jackson, Mississippi. So at the very other end of the social spectrum. That’s where she started out when she began her long career of medicalization.

This is the picture of her release from Prangins.  You can see that she actually looks very different from when she was 18. Almost unrecognizable. I guess it’s separated by a number of years as well.  But ooking very, very different.  That was the earliest instance  of her breakdown, in 1930.

That was an unduly optimistic diagnosis that she was recovered, that she recovered from the breakdown. Because she was very soon hospitalized again. And this time in another even more famous Swiss clinic, Burgholtzi, which is where Jung actually practiced. And I think Freud actually was there briefly as well. So in Tender is the Night, there’s a reference to Freud, that Dick Diver’s to get to Vienna before Freud retires and there’s also the Swiss clinic. So all of that is, in part, has a connection to Zelda’s own medical history inSwitzerland.

Then she went to a bunch of other ones. I can’t even keep track of all the different one’s that she went to. But at some point in 1932, she went to Johns Hopkins. They were back in this country. She went to Johns Hopkins hospital. And that turned out to have quite an important effect on both of them. Because when she was at Hopkins, part of the treatment was that she would have to write for two hours a day. That was part of the medical treatment. So she started writing. And she wrote a novel called Save Me the Waltz, which was published in 1932. It was only about 1,000 copies sold.  It didn’t make its way into American literature, exactly.

But it’s interesting in many ways, because it is Zelda using her own medical history, using her marriage to Scott Fitzgerald, using all that personal stuff as material for this novel. And Fitzgerald actually tried to stop it from being published or tried to revise it very significantly before it was published. And then after it was published, he had this opinion about his wife’s novel. “Plagiaristic, unwise in every way. Should not have been written. “

In may ways, a painful example of the many, many instances in American literature of the husband having some control over the wife’s writing. The most famous example is Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Her letters were actually edited by him after her death. So in this case, she did get it published. But it didn’t reach a very wide audience, and he was against it from day one.

The daughter, Scottie, had a somewhat different opinion. She just said that “this sort of competition is traditionally the bane of literary romances.”  At least she had a more clear-eyed view about the marriage that there was quite a competition going on. Even though, obviously, he was the one who was the writer. she had some aspirations as well. And if she had been encouraged, might actually have had more of a career.

So the element of competition between husband and wife I think is quite an important theme. Even though Fitzgerald tried to downplay it in saying that his wife’s the one who really had no talent, she had to plagiarize from him, he must have registered the fact that she was more of a competitor than he let on.  We’ll see how that plays out in the dynamics between Dick Diver and Nicole and who wins out.

This is actually not so important, just a kind of point of reference is we know there’s another woman, significant woman in Tender is the Night, Rosemary, the actress. And I think this is generally thought that this is the person that Rosemary is based on. And we can sort of see that. She has this very wholesome, innocent look. But she also was tremendously disciplined as an actress. And indeed, she had a very distinguished career as an actress. So this is sort of the Hollywood contribution to Tender is the Night.

Today’s lecture will be more about cinematic techniques. So even though Rosemary personifies Hollywood’s contribution to Tender Is the Night, actually it’s in terms of formal techniques that film would have more of an input on the narrative technique of Tender Is the Night.

Chapter 2: Have and Have Not as Types in Tender Is the Night [00:10:23]

But I want to go back very briefly to something that we’ve been talking about all semester – the variously played out dynamics between the “have” and the “have not.”  I know you guys might not have gotten to the end of this novel, so I apologize, but there’s really no way I could talk about the novel without talking about the ending.  Without knowing all the details in between, this is the last two paragraphs of Tender is the Night.

“… but he became entangled with a girl who worked in a grocery store, and he was also involved in a lawsuit about some medical question; so he leftLockport. After that he didn’t ask for the children to be sent to America and didn’t answer when Nicole wrote asking him if he needed money.  In the last letter she had from him he told her that he was practising in Geneva, New York, and she got the impression that he had settled down with some one to keep house for him.  She looked up Geneva in an atlas and found it was in the heart of the Finger Lakes Section and considered a pleasant place.  Perhaps, so she liked to think, his career was biding its time, again like Grant’s in Galena; his latest note was post-marked from Hornell, New York, which is some distance from Geneva and a very small town; in any case he is almost certainly in that section of the country, in one town or another.”

These last five words, five of the cruelest words in American literature. He’s a total nobody by the end of the novel, in one town or another.  This is a novel that moves very fast. We start out with him at the top of his profession, full of promise. In fact, when we first see him, he is idolized by everyone around him. To get there to this ending– that the woman in his life would be someone that he sees in a grocery store– and not even that, getting into trouble of his very modest medical practice. A drifter, going from one small town to another. And this additional insult that he starts out inZurich,Switzerland–a city that everyone knows about– toGeneva,New York, which Nicole has to look up in an atlas, and he can’t even hold onto thisGeneva.  In many ways, the ending is the beginning, but a highly ironized beginning.

We’ve seen this structure before, and I promise you we’ll see it one more time. So the last three novelists that we read basically have the same structure, but to totally different effect.   From what we know at this point, we know that at least one other novel has this circular structure– the ending is the beginning– which is For Whom the Bell Tolls. So we’ve talked about this, but just want to give you those two sentences.

Beginning, “He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest.” And then the last line, “He could feel his heart beating against the pine-needled floor of the forest.” So it is Hemingway’s very tender rendition of a life that could be construed as the life of a “have not.” We talked about that possibility that maybe he really has nothing. All he has is a broken leg, that very ironic reading, which is not to be dismissed.

But against that ironic reading, Hemingway invokes this very lyrical image of ending is the beginning as a kind of an endless deferral of the moment of death.  He’s still alive. It’s almost as if we’re beginning all over again. And we, as the readers, want him to begin all over again. It is that illusion perpetrated in our minds, the reader’s mind, that Hemingway is able to write a novel that, in some sense, doesn’t really have an ending. In the ending is the beginning, the actual death scene is deferred to a point of infinity. So this is Hemingway’s very tender wrapping up of the life of Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

In contrast to that, Fitzgerald is about as brutal as can be. Actually, it’s sort of surprising that he would want to be so thoroughgoing in the degradation of Dick Diver. But that’s how he wants to write.  Today we’ll look at that ending, the cruelty of that. And link that to the question of narrative speed. We know that the novel is moving very fast. A lot of things have to happen for us to get to that very, very low point at the end of the novel.  What has happened and what does Fitzgerald have to do in order to speed up the narrative to such an extent that he would get to that absolute low point?

Chapter 3: Rosemary and Dick as Actors [00:16:12]

Last time, we talked about montage and we talked about flashback as two cinematic techniques that are important to Fitzgerald.  Today, we’ll look at three very, very common filming techniques and the way that they actually help to speed up the narrative. It’s not self-evident that a close-up would , in fact, speed up the narrative. But the way Fitzgerald uses his close-ups actually does.  It’s not always clear that cross-cutting would speed up the narrative. Once again, he uses this very familiar technique to move things forward.  Then we have the very fast motion of the negative resolutions. Things being taken away from Dick Diver.

Let’s look at a couple of instances of close-up. And this is just so obviously visual that it’s sort of hard to look away from that with how to read this without having some kind of visual image. This is about Rosemary. As you know, she has this crush on him, on Dick Diver, and really desperately wants to have an affair. But it doesn’t quite happen for a while.

“Presently she kissed him several times in the mouth, her face getting big as it came up to him; he had never seen anything so dazzling as the quality of her skin, and since sometimes beauty gives back the images of one’s best thoughts he thought of his responsibility about Nicole, and of the responsibility of her being two doors down across the corridor. ‘The rain’s over,” he said.  “Do you see the sun on the slate?’Rosemary stood up and leaned down and said her most sincere thing to him: ‘Oh, we’re such actors – you and I.’”

OK, so we’re starting out on one kind of register. We’re starting with the notion of Rosemary as this kind of love-sick puppy that’s just pining for him. An unrequited love on top of that, that is going nowhere.  The first part up to the last three lines of that passage is really all about Dick Diver being this noble person, even though he could have taken advantage of Rosemary and she’s pining for him. He could have easily taken advantage of her. He’s not doing that. He’s thinking of his responsibility to Nicole two doors down the hall. All that is about the nobility and uprightness of Dick Diver.

The last three lines swing us to the other end, other side of the narrative.  All of a sudden, we see what kind of a person Rosemary is.  She’s completely truthful. Rosemary’s never not truthful. Even though she’s an actress, she actually is the most truthful person in the novel – in this sense.  She is an actress: it’s very hard to know where the acting ends and where the feeling begins. She’s so disciplined that she would always act.  Then she runs into an obstacle, and she stops acting in that way as she is doing right there.  It’s like trying out one route, seeing that is going nowhere, and then suddenly seeing that maybe she should take another one.

There is a way in which the emotional life of Rosemary has been completely professionalized to such an extent that she’s always acting, which is not even to say that she’s not sincere. And Fitzgerald credits her with being sincere. It’s just that that is what she is. I don’t think that she is capable of having any kind of emotions outside of her professional identity as an actress.  This is what she is.

It is Dick’s blindness to that that he doesn’t realize that she’s not exactly a love-sick puppy. She is someone who is actually acting in a particular fashion. And who not only has a full understanding of what kind of a person she is, but she has a full understanding of what he is. So it’s not surprising that she should know herself to be primarily an actress. It’s not an accusation to say that. That’s what she is. Above everything else, she’s primarily an actress. So she has that degree of self-knowledge.

But she also has the knowledge about him, that even though he is supposedly a doctor, he actually is, at heart, an actor.  That is an accusation, a much more serious accusation, directed at him than it is directed at her, because she has been totally up front. She never is not an actress. From the beginning of the novel to the end, she is defined by that.

He is supposed to be a doctor. So he’s not supposed to be an actor. But it turns out that maybe the innermost truth about him is that he is an actor. And that all the appearance of nobility, all the appearance of uprightness, might turn out to be an act that he is putting up for her benefit. An act that he’s putting up for his own benefit. Sometimes we can act for ourselves as well.  It shows the degree of knowledge of him and a clear-eyed, unsentimental, un-love-sick evaluation of exactly what kind of a man he is. So it is the most acute statement about Dick Diver that we’ve seen up to this point. This is quite early, page 105.

It is that acuteness, that astute knowledge about a man that she’s supposedly idolizing that gives the lie, actually, to the adoration that she seems to be raining on him. That it’s actually completely within bounds. She’s practicing what it’s like to be an adoring, love-sick puppy. She’s acting that part. But it’s a part that she’s just doing it very well.

Chapter 4: The Close-Up as a Narrative Technique [00:23:23]

To move on to an analysis of the narrative technique, the moment when we have that kind of sudden switch in perspective actually comes with a visual detail that her face is coming closer and closer to him.  Her face is getting big as it comes up to him. So let’s remember that one visual detail that her face completely fills his field of vision, that he sees nothing but her face.  Let’s keep that one visual detail in mind and see what Fitzgerald does with that detail, that close-up. So this is another scene quite a bit later– actually a flashback.  Going back to the point when Nicole was still in the sanatorium and she was asking him to take care of her.

“Nicole was up in her head now, cool as cool, trying to collate the sentimentalities of her childhood, as deliberate as a man getting drunk after battle… He breathed over her shoulder and turned her insistently about; she kissed him several times, her face getting big every time he came close, her hands holding him by the shoulders. ‘It’s raining hard.’ Suddenly there was a booming from the wine slopes across the lake; cannons were shooting at hail-bearing clouds in order to break them.  The lights of the promenade went off, went on again.”

We get that repetition of that same visual detail– the kissing, her face getting very big as it gets close to him. So the repetition of the same close-up.  What is odd is that we get exactly the same narrative sequence after that close-up. After the visual detail of her face getting big, we get the exact switch to a different narrative register. So this is not Nicole passing judgment on him. So it’s not exactly the same structure as the incident with Rosemary. But there’s a switch, abrupt switch, to a different sequence of narrative.  

In this case, it’s such quite a trivial event. They were shooting cannons in order to break up the hail-bearing clouds. I guess it’s something you do in Switzerland. But the point is that cannons were being fired in peacetime Switzerland, which is kind of a surprising fact in itself since we’re not so familiar with cannons being fired for that purpose. But given the fact that we’ll be seeing the intertwined, the superimposed images of love and war, the firing of the cannons is certainly not trivial at this point.

At the very least, we can say that there’s an intrusion into this love scene of the undeniable and historical proven reality of war, of World War I. It’s just a fact of history that there was such a war.  Fitzgerald’s not going to recreate that war for us, except for going over the battleground and talking about it taking 20 lives to advance a foot– that reference that we saw last time. He’s not going to go further in the direction of World War I than he has done so far. But he is going to give us echoes of World War I in civilian situations. And not only that, but he’s going to use that as a narrative follow up to a love scene, specifically to a close-up when the woman’s face is getting bigger and bigger.

We can say that what the close-up is doing for Fitzgerald– especially the woman’s face getting bigger and bigger– is the dramatization, the visualization of the woman’s power over the man.  When Rosemary’s face is getting so big that she fills the entire visual tableau, that is the point where we see that Rosemary actually knows exactly what kind of a man Dick Diver is. That’s she’s is absolutely clear-eyed about him. Here there’s not that equivalent clear-eyed judgement from the part of Nicole because she’s still a patient. She hasn’t gotten to that point yet. But Fitzgerald is giving us the structural equivalent of that kind of judgment in the sense that there’s a sudden break up of the love scene and the replacement of that love scene by something that is like an intonation of battle.

At the very least, we should be prepared for the fact that maybe war is not extraneous to love. Maybe war is actually organic to love. That maybe war is the narrative structure of love. That love takes the form of a battle between the two people who are conjoined in this fashion.  This is, in many ways, a kind of a prelude to a kind of visual tableau that is a gesture towards the future of that narrative.

Chapter 5: Cross-Cutting as a Narrative Technique [00:29:10]

I want to look at another technique now, which is also very prominent and very unmistakable in Tender Is the Night, which is the technique of cross-cutting. So this is in book 2 of Tender is the Night, and especially in section 10 of book 2.  It’s the beginning of section 10. Begins with, “In Zurich in September Doctor Diver had tea with Baby Warren.” So at this point, he’s still a doctor. And it’s in that professional capacity that he would have tea with Baby Warren, Nicole’s sister, who’s trying to get a doctor to take of her. Buy a doctor for Nicole. So they’re having tea and talking about various things. And he’s still not agreeing to being a lifelong caretaker for Nicole at this point.

But this is what happens on page 158, one page down. Next page, actually. We get a sudden, abrupt switch to Nicole’s point of view, told from her point of view, and narrated by Nicole herself as in the first person. This is outside of her exchange of the letters that she writes to Dick Diver. We’ll get a sense of how Nicole thinks by following this kind of monologue that is given to us as counterpoint to the tea between Dick Diver and Baby Warren.

How do you do, lawyer.  We’re going to Como tomorrow for a week and then back to Zurich.  That’s why I wanted you and sister to settle this, because it doesn’t matter to us how much I’m allowed.  We’re going to live very quietly in Zurich for two years and Dick has enough to take care of us.  No, Baby, I’m more practical than you think – It’s only for clothes and things I’ll need it…  Why, that’s more than – can the estate really afford to give me all that?  I know I’ll never manage to spend it.   Do you have that much?  Why do you have more – is it because I’m supposed to be incompetent?  All right. Let my share pile up then….  No, Dick refuses to have anything whatever to do with it.  I’ll have to feel bloated for us both….”

I’m not even reading it very well. This could have been read much better to get the tone exactly what a sharp businesswoman Nicole is. In the space of one short exchange she achieves three things. She manages to get her share of the estate. So she begins with saying, OK, we can live very modestly on Dick’s pay. We don’t need the money. I just need it for clothes and incidentals.  Very modest requirement, very modest demand on the estate. She gets the amount she says is too much. She checks out to see how much Baby is getting and finds out that, in fact, what she’s getting is less than what Baby gets. She gets an increase right then and there on the spot. More than that, there’s, of course, the question whether Dick will have a share of that income. And she’s admitting to the fact that she would have to feel bloated for the two of them, that he’s not going to get a penny of that income.

In the space of one paragraph that switches from Dick’s point of view to Nicole’s point of view, we have an incredible fast forward of the narrative, changing our conception of Nicole from a patient in a mental institution to a sharp business woman who is going to keep very tight control over the money that comes to her.  We shouldn’t forget, after all, she’s the granddaughter of a man who has a huge fortune, who has made that huge fortune.  There’s a constant reference, as in For Whom the Bell Tolls, the cross-generation link to the grandfather. In Tender is the Night, there’s also a cross-generational link to Nicole’s grandfather. That maybe she’s more her grandfather’s granddaughter than we may think.

The effect of that cross-cutting is to take the narrative away from Dick’s side of the story and deposit the agency strictly on Nicole’s side. That she’s the one who’s actually calling the shots. She’s the one who actually has the financial control over the future of that marriage.

Let me just give you one other much more small incidence of that cross-cutting. All this, the many pages after that cross-cutting, is told in the first person in Nicole’s voice. And so from being in a mental institution, suddenly she’s married to Dick Diver. All of that is settled. She has the control over the money. But she also is beginning to complain about the particular shape the marriage is taking.

“But I was gone again by that time – trains and beaches they were all one.  That was why he took me travelling but after my second child, my little girl, Topsy, was born everything got dark again….  If I could get word to my husband who has seen fit to desert me here, to leave me in the hands of incompetents.  You tell me my baby is black – that’s farcical, that’s very cheap.  We went to Africa merely to see Timgad, since my principal interest in life is archeology.   I am tired of knowing nothing and being reminded of it all the time.”

page 161. We can see the speed of this development, of that particular interpretation of the marriage. From the beginning, when she’s not even married to Dick Diver, to the next page, 159, when she’s married to him, but retaining full control of her finances, to page 161 when she’s in a position to complain about his behavior as a husband.

Chapter 6: Racialization in Fitzgerald [00:36:05]

What is odd here– and I think it’s actually quite heavy handed on the part of Fitzgerald– is that, once again, there’s a gratuitous, completely inexplicable intrusion of a racialized detail in the person of Nicole’s daughter, Topsy. That “my baby is black” is really coming out of nowhere, except for the fact that we know that Fitzgerald has a long history of racializing particular characters at critical moments.

You guys know that Topsy is a reference to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel.  Topsy’s a black character, and it’s one of the most vivid black characters in that novel.  It’s Fitzgerald’s kind of backhanded tribute to a nineteenth century classic and resurrecting the name of a black character. Totally inappropriate name for the daughter of Nicole. But nonetheless, that’s what he chooses to give her.

This is just to flesh out the features of the history of racialization in Fitzgerald. We know that there really are no black characters in The Great Gatsby. But there’s this constant intrusion of black characters, strangely.

“As we crossed Blackwell’s island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.”

This is Gatsby going to town with Nick. And all of a sudden, the intrusion of the three blacks in a limousine driven by a white chauffeur, that is a kind of visual metaphor for the upstart Gatsby trying to elevate himself higher than he should be.

In this case, the racialization that we see in Tender is the Night has to do, I think, with a moment of marital volatility. We know that she actually has control of the basic structural feature of that marriage, which is the money. And given that control, she’s in a position to put a particular spin on that marriage. And the marriage has to do with neglect, with the fact that they’re traveling because he needs to travel, that she’s an involuntary appendage to his constant travel, and that he’s neglecting her.

This is, in many ways, an early paving of the ground for the eventual outcome of the novel that is highlighted by Nicole presenting herself as the victimized party in the marriage.  To racialize herself and to racialize her daughter is a very specific and I guess tested technique of demonstration, a degree of grievance, a degree of felt oppression on her part. Even though she’s not really black, it’s almost as if she were the black person in that marriage.  That’s what the metaphor is doing for her. She’s anything but black. But she’s treated as if she were black. That’s what she’s claiming.  We don’t really know if we agree with her yet. But this is Nicole’s interpretation of the marriage is that she is the oppressed party in that marriage.

Chapter 7: Cross-Cutting to Nicole’s Judgment of Dick [00:40:02]

Let’s look at one other instance of cross-cutting to Nicole. And this is, once again, taking the narrative agency– at least landing the story on Nicole’s side.

“Dick, why did you register Mr. and Mrs. Diver instead of Doctor and Mrs. Diver?  I just wondered – it just floated through my mind. – You’ve taught me that work is everything and I believe you.  You used to say a man knows things and when he stops knowing things he’s like anybody else, and the thing is to get power before he stops knowing things.  If you want to turn topsy-turvy, all right, but must your Nicole follow you walking on her hands, darling?”

I think that by page 162, one page further down, the shape of what is to come is pretty much unmistakable.  It is conveyed very much through a tone of voice. Through, in this case, almost a repetition of exactly the same kind of structure that we’re seeing between Dick and Rosemary. Rosemary is the one, who on page 105 already has seen through Dick Diver. She has seen through him so that she can pass the most wounding judgment on him that he’s not doctor, he’s an actor.

Nicole has arrived at that conclusion on page 162 that he is not a doctor. A doctor is supposed to have medical knowledge. That’s what makes a medical doctor. A medical doctor is that he has more knowledge than his patient. But she knows at this point that, in fact, he doesn’t have any more knowledge than the average person, that he’s lost his claim to being a doctor.  There are not that many more identities available to him once he’s lost that claim to a professional identity. She’s not saying outright that he’s an actor, but she’s implying as much.

This is naming exactly what it is that Dick Diver has failed to do. If he had done things right, he would have had absolute control of the marriage before he loses out in the department of knowledge. But now that he’s lost out in the department of knowledge, he’s not going to have power in that marriage as well.

This very sharp, clear-eyed, absolutely unsentimental judgment of her husband is very much an echo of what Rosemary has intuited much earlier.  It comes across er to us, comes across to the reader, once again, through the technique of cross-cutting. So I would say that this sort of the emptying out of any kind of sustenance, of any moral sustenance in Dick Diver has come very, very early. And it’s through this complete, steady erosion of any admiration for him on the part of two women who started out as great idolizers of him.

Chapter 8: The Speed of the Negative Resolution to Tender Is the Night [00:43:41]

We’ve gotten to a point where we actually see the speed of the negative resolution picking up. The speed becomes just faster and faster. Basically, there’s three points of no return for Dick Diver on his way to losing his medical practice in Rockport. The first point of no return is the fight he gets with a carabinieri.

“He walked past the staring carabinieri and up to the grinning face, hit it with a smashing left beside the jaw.  The man dropped to the floor.”

This is a cab driver that he got into a fight with.

“For a moment he stood over him in triumph – but even as a first pang of doubt shot through him the world reeled; he was clubbed down, and fists and boots beat on him in a strange tattoo.  He felt his nose break like a shingle and his eyes jerk as if they had snapped back on a rubber band into his head.  A rib splintered under a stamping heel.  Momentarily he lost consciousness, regained it as he was raised to a sitting position and his wrists jerked together with handcuffs.  The plainclothes lieutenant whom he had knocked down… poised himself, drew back his arm and smashed him to the floor.”

A brutal scene. Lots of people getting shot. And Dick Diver, it’s important to point out, is not exempt from that violence.  This is the first emptying out of his professional identity. A doctor is supposed to be treating someone who has been subjected to that kind of violence.  Instead, it turns out that he is the one who needs a doctor to take care of him. So this is what happens when you have things happening very fast. And this is an image, actually, of the carabenieri, which still is kind of sinister looking. But this is the person– the gang of them, actually– beating up on Dick Diver.

What is interesting is that even though things are actually happening, raining down fast, thick and fast on Dick Diver, he’s actually accused of moving too fast. We see that various people accuse him of various things. We’ve seen Rosemary is accusing him of something, Nicole accusing him of something.  He’s now being accused by his partner in a clinic in this conversation between Franz and his wife.

 “‘For shame!” Kaethe said.  ‘You’re the solid one, you do the work.  It’s a case of hare and tortoise – and in my opinion the hare’s race is almost done’… Franz let himself believe with ever-increasing conviction that Dick travelled intellectually and emotionally at such a rate of speed that the vibrations jarred him.”

The two of them talking behind his back, saying that he’s not such a great partner to begin with. And we see the consequence of that kind of conversation between Franz and his wife when they’re talking about dissolving that medical partnership.

“ ‘This is no go,’ he said suddenly. ‘Well, that’s occurred to me,’ Franz admitted. ‘Your heart isn’t in this project anymore, Dick.’ ‘I know. I want to leave– we should strike some arrangement about taking Nicole’s money out gradually.’ ‘I have thought about that too, Dick– I have seen this coming. I’m able to arrange other backing, and it will be possible to take all your money out by the end of the year. ’ Dick had not intended to come to a decision so quickly, nor was he prepared for Franz’s so ready acquiescence in the break, yet he was relieved. Not without desperation he had long felt the ethics of his profession dissolving into a lifeless mass.”

This is the speed of the break up of that medical practice. Again, at a speed that Dick had not counted on, that he had not asked for. It is somebody else’s speed that has dictated the narrative development. I know that we’re almost running out of time, so I’ll give you the final part of that resolution against in fast motion. Actually, I’m going to skip this, because I know that we’re running out of time.  This will be on the PowerPoint.

Chapter 9: The Intrusion of World War I into Marriage [00:48:09]

I’m just going to go to the very end of narrative about love as war. We’ve being seeing this super imposition of love and World War I all the way through. And finally, we see the intrusion of World War I into this description of Nicole’s idea of what the marriage is like.

“Again she struggled with it, fighting him with her small, fine eyes, with the plush arrogance of a top dog, with her nascent transference to another man, with the accumulated resentment of years; she fought him with her money and her faith that her sister disliked him and was behind her now; with the thought of the new enemies he was making with his bitterness… For this inner battle she used even her weaknesses– fighting bravely and courageously with the old cans and crockery and bottles, empty receptacles of her expiated sins, outrages, mistakes. And suddenly, in the space of two minutes she achieved her victory and justified herself to herself without lie or subterfuge, cut the cord forever.”

Two minutes for her to come to the final decision about her marriage.  This is the final image. I was just saying this is a great moment to pair up with the barber scene, the rape scene in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

“The mirror in front of Nicole reflected the passage between the men’s side and the women’s, and Nicole started up at the sight of Tommy, Bob and the man she’s going to marry entering and wheeling sharply in the men’s shop. She knew with a flush of joy that there was going to be some kind of showdown. In a minute Dick came into Nicole’s booth, his expression emerging annoyed from behind a towel of his hastily rinsed face. ‘Your friend has worked himself up into a state. He wants to see us together, so I agreed to have it over with. Come along!’ ‘But my hair– it’s half cut.’ ‘Nevermind– come along!’ Resentfully she had the staring coiffeuse remove the towels. Feeling messy and unadorned she followed Dick from the hotel. Outside Tommy bent over her hand. ‘We’ll go to the Cafe des Alliees,’ said Dick.”

The same barber shop scene. The same cutting of the hair, except that in this case, the hair is only half cut. It is the speed of that resolution– the marriage has ended so hastily that the hair cutting job is not even completely done. But that’s the story that Fitzgerald wants to tell, this hastily done job.

[end of transcript] 

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