New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
Why read it? Novel. The theme is dependence. Nicole is a wealthy mental patient who is desperately in love with and dependent on her young psychiatrist, Dick Diver, whom she marries. As she achieves mental stability and emotional Independence, he deteriorates because he has become dependent on her. She leaves him for a man who will be her lover and her caretaker, and Dick begins an irreversible decline into alcoholism and dissolution.
This theme of superior, successful individuals who help dependent people gain a foothold on success and then themselves deteriorate as they become dependent, reoccurs in literature and film. Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie is an example and so is the film A Star Is Born. What makes Tender Is the Night poignant is that the plot and characters seem to resemble the lives of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author, and his mentally disturbed wife Zelda and their lives in the "Roaring '20s."
Some Ideas and Quotes to Discuss
"I am a woman and my business is to hold things together."
"The fine quiet of the scholar which is nearest of all things to heavenly peace."
"Naturally Nicole, wanting to own him, wanting him to stand still forever."
"It had been a hard night but she had the satisfaction of feeling that whatever Dick's previous record was, they now possessed a moral superiority over him for as long as he proved of any use."
"We get a lot of understanding at the end of life."
"I never understood what common sense meant applied to complicated problems--unless it means that a general practitioner can perform a better operation than a specialist."
"Dick's bitterness had surprised Rosemary, who had thought of him as all-forgiving, all comprehending."
"Why, I'm almost complete. I'm practically standing alone, without him."
"And the old little wish that she could tell Dick all about it faded quickly."
"Good-by my father--good-by, all my fathers."