Identity in Tender is the Night

Identity is “the characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is” (Oxford Dictionary). Identity includes one’s sexuality, age, political views, religious beliefs, or anything that shapes who they are. In Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, identity is a constant theme depicted throughout the life of Dick Diver. Throughout the novel, Diver tries to alter the path he originally set out for himself, in hopes of finding his lost identity. Dick Diver is a social climber bound to self-destruct. His feelings of restriction from familial obligations turn him into a self-proclaimed manque, in search of liveliness. This journey for sanity leads Diver down a dark road of alcoholism, incest, and lack of self-knowledge, ultimately causing him to remain at rock bottom.

In Tender is the Night, Dick Diver’s decisions shape his future and the person he is. Distracted by society’s standards, his family’s standards and his own standard’s, Diver struggles to remain genuine. In a society “where the meaning of personal experience is more and more slipping away from the control of the individual” (Broer), Diver makes some detrimental decisions, leading to his present state. Decisions like picking a college major and who Diver chooses to marry are significant decisions. They’re decisions that Diver has to live with for the rest of their life and are not to be taken lightly. The consequences of these decisions can lead to happiness or distress. It is obvious what the consequences were. Marrying someone because of their money or choosing your future career because of an attractive girl were not good choices. If Diver had thought more about what he truly wanted before making irrational decisions his future would have turned out differently.

F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays Dick Diver’s feelings of pressure due to his obligation to be successful and societal pressures. Diver’s belief that in society, one’s image is sculpted by their ancestors’ status and their own status, gets him into trouble. He starts making decisions based off of the reactions and opinions of those around him. This process only gives Diver temporary please and end in emptiness. Diver wastes his time throwing parties and living an expensive lifestyle, and he does not realize that he is truly unhappy. Material goods and social status do not bring happiness, which is seen further on in Dick’s life. “The awareness of the myth of the self-made man was the greatest of American allusions…. Awareness of the fact did not permit one to escape the truth on which it was premised” (Pitcher). Diver gives into this unrealistic notion of the American Dream, which promotes wealth and perfection. Due to this belief, “realizing that he is in fact not wealthy does a great deal of harm to Dick’s concept of his living the American Dream” (Florida Atlantic University). It is an illusion. When we first meet The Divers, they are a perfect example of the American Dream. This means they are both attractive, they have money, and they appear to be happy. However, the American Dream is just a myth, and as the novel unfolds readers see that the Divers are far from perfect (Pitcher). The role of society and the influences it has on Dick’s thoughts cloud his identity at the beginning of the novel. Although Diver thinks that his artificial life at the beginning of the novel is his identity, we learn that Dick Diver honestly does not know who he is and feels lost without material items and money. Diver learns that the opinions of others have no impact on a person’s true identity.

Furthermore, Diver’s familial presumptions shift his identity and give him standards he feels obligated to live up to. Diver’s main inspiration in his identity search is his father. Dick’s father embodies everything Dick wants to be and is described as “beyond any doubt of what he” (Fitzgerald 204). Diver’s father is a confident man, and like Diver, can sometimes be described as powerful. However, Dick Diver’s father was also honest a virtuous. These are characteristics Dick could work on. Dick attempts to mimic his father; however, he spends more time pretending to be someone he is not, than just being himself. This furthers his lack of self-identity because Diver is constantly trying to mimic his father’s actions and traits. Dick cannot find his identity until he embraces himself.

When Dick Diver’s father dies, he feels even more pressure to honor his legacy by being a moral person (Stern). However, this only causes his habits to worsen. Dick becomes addicted to alcohol, leading to violence and destruction. The death of Dick Diver’s father completely changes his chances of recovery and self-identification. Diver no longer acts as a paternal figure to Rosemary or Nicole, showing that he has completely lost his sense identity. Diver realizes at this moment that he cannot control his fate, saying “good-by all fathers” (Fitzgerald 204). He has completely lost any sense of hope. Furthermore, Dick Diver loses the opportunity to be successful and fails to do anything right. He cannot properly treat patients, maintain a healthy relationship, or live a virtuous life. Dick has lost any sense of who he was and has no chance of becoming “as good as he had intended to be” (Fitzgerald 204).

Dick Diver is incestuous and acts as a father figure in all of his romantic relationships due to lack of control in his own life. Diver enjoys controlling his partners, because to him, it affirms that he is powerful and respected. “Diver undergoes a process of self-dissipation throughout the novel: from a state of initial “all completeness” to an intermediary one in which we are told that “he still had pieces of his own most personal self for everyone”(Fitzgerald, 139) and finally to a total exhaustion, which is a form of inertness”(Stamatescu). Younger women are more likely to accept this dominating power because they are used to being controlled by adults and parents. They also might be less experienced and believe that Diver’s urge to control a relationship is normal. Having this power makes Diver feel more valuable as a person because being responsible for someone else and knowing that they depend on him fills the void of his own vulnerability. This is unhealthy for his well-being and results in loss of identity when these relationships fail.

Dick Diver enjoys being around younger women because they have no responsibility and have the freedom to live as they please. This explains Diver’s attraction to Rosemary. When Diver first meets her, he describes her saying, “her body hovered delicately on the last edge of childhood—she was almost eighteen, nearly complete, but the dew was still on her.” (Fitzgerald 3). Although it is slightly disturbing hearing Diver talk about a young lady in this manner, he describes his attraction to the qualities that make Rosemary youthful. He also notes that she still had dew on her, signifying her innocence and indicating that she was a virgin at the time. Furthermore, Diver describes his daughter Topsy, as “nine and very fair and exquisitely made like Nicole…Dick had worried about that” (Fitzgerald 257) and compares Rosemary to his daughter. This shows how inappropriate and extreme Diver’s feelings are. He is even attracted to his own daughter who is only a child. Dick Diver forms relationships with young girls like Rosemary because he wishes he had the same opportunities that they have. Young people have the power to create their future, unlike Diver, whose future was determined when he married Nicole. By surrounding himself with younger people, Diver can watch them blossom and live freely. This makes Diver feel like he is young again and is free from all of his burdens. This also distracts Diver from finding his true self by creating a false sense of identity. Dick Diver will never be young again and accepting his age and place in life is a big part of Diver’s identity that he must come to terms with to be happy.

The twisted relationship of Dick Diver and his wife Nicole gave Diver a false sense of dependency that tarnished his identity. In retrospect, the arranged marriage was technically a way for Nicole to get the attention she needed due to her schizophrenia. However, Nicole’s incestuous past and lack of confidence caused her to become almost completely dependent on her husband, who reminded her of her own father. This made Dick Diver not only Nicole’s husband, but also her doctor and father figure. Nicole’s weakness and Dick’s feelings of importance are what keep this relationship stable (Galioto). Dick and Nicole’s once strong bond was shown when he “left a note for Maria Wallis signed “”Dicole,” the word with which he and Nicole had signed communications in the first days of love” (Fitzgerald 113). At one point, the Divers were so dependent on each other that it was normal for them to combine their names, as if they were one. However, as time went on, the marriage became strained and dishonest. The relationship became unenjoyable for Dick, and the lack of control over Nicole reflected his lack of control over his own life. Once Nicole started to become more independent and confident without Dick, the relationship became rocky.

Although Dick felt trapped in his relationship with Nicole, his reaction to her decision to leave him was slightly unexpected. Even though he was not completely happy in their relationship, it was not easy for Dick to understand that not only did Nicole not want him anymore, but she also no longer needed him for support. This sudden lack of control over Nicole reflected Diver’s lack of control over his own life. Dick Diver’s attempt to save his marriage with Nicole was his last attempt at gaining some form of power in his life. Nicole’s choice to marry Tommy Barban showed Dick Diver that she had control over her life, something Diver was desperate for.

The Diver’s divorce changed the identities of both Dick and Nicole. Through their separation, Dick lost more of his identity, whereas Nicole found her identity. Dick lost the belief that he was important to someone and could act as the hero or father figure. Because of this, he falls into a depression, and even Nicole tells him “You’ve made a failure of your life” (Fitzgerald 334) This contributed to Dick Diver’s loss of role in his family and society. However, Nicole found her identity through her separation from Dick. This separation proved Nicole’s strength to herself and others. She finally felt like an independent, self-sufficient, and valuable woman. Formerly, Nicole had felt as though “every word had seemed to have an overtone of some other meaning, soon to be resolved under circumstances that Dick would determine” (Fitzgerald 280). Now that Nicole is no longer relying on Dick, she can form her own thoughts and opinions and live a life true to herself. Freeing herself from Dick Diver’s restraint means that Nicole can live without the burden of their relationship. She can personally grow in the healthy relationship she deserves.

Dick Diver’s rejection of the belief that each person’s fate is inevitable alters his worldview. It is clear that Diver’s future was not what he expected by any means. Although Dick Diver felt powerful at times as a result of his family status and his significance to weak women in unhealthy relationships, Diver could not handle his fate. Diver became a perfectionist, trying to change his destiny in hopes of avoiding surprises or unhappiness. However, Diver could not release the notion that it is impossible to completely control your future. Every choice, action, feeling, and decision is inevitable. As Dick’s life starts to change, his struggle to hold on to the past becomes impossible, and he feels as if he has completely lost his identity. Ultimately Dick cannot stop his self-destruction until he can become less controlling. By the time he realizes this, it is already too late.

Dick Diver was bound to ruin his reputation and social perfection because of his attempts to alter his fate. While attempting to become a flawless member of society, Diver ruins his job, marriage, friendships, and in turn, his identity. Not only does Diver destroy every valuable thing in his life, but he also ruins his sense of security in life and pride. Diver suffers many consequences and loses the chance to become the virtuous, respected man he dreamed of being. Diver’s act of perfection becomes faulty when people start to see who he truly is. Because he has lost his identity, Diver’s public failure transforms him into someone new. Diver’s confusion about life makes his identity jumbled and unclear. He lost his sense of self and is a completely changed person from the Diver we were first introduced to at the beginning of the novel.

Alcohol acts as a distraction that keeps Dick Diver from coping with his identity. Diver drinks large amounts of alcohol to fit in with society and uses it to numb his feelings of worry. Dick’s complete hopelessness and desire to be apart of society causes him to be reckless and excessive. Dick turns into an alcoholic, completely changing how he is seen by society. Diver becomes more violent and pitiful. Diver goes from a put together man that does not drink to an uncontrollable drunk. He allows alcohol to take over his identity and define who he is.

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Dick Diver struggles to find his identity. Throughout the novel, Diver is constantly distracted by personal and communal obstacles. He struggles to avoid succumbing to society’s pressure to be perfect, while navigating through divorce, affairs, and alcoholism. Fitzgerald uses identity as a theme, stressing that loss of identity can cause loss of sanity, which Diver clearly displayed. Through his struggle to find himself, Dick Diver slips into bad habits, becoming controlling and unrealistic. These characteristics become apart of his identity, and ultimately, Diver shows how easily a person’s identity can slip away.

The Developing Relationship in Tender is the Night

They are American, young, wealthy and in love. Nicole and Dick are the souls of an age, a world of opulence, blurred boundaries and equally commanding desires, and their relationship reflects the ambiguities of its core values. Judged within an American popular culture, their success together may be measured romantically, professionally and economically. Even as they fulfil the best marital stereotype, making a pretty pair and their union for the most part a benefit to the society orbiting around them, theirs is not a typical love affair. Nicole’s mental sickness means it is doomed from the start, not only challenging their roles in relation to one another, but also reflecting the illusory nature and transience of appearances. Schizophrenia is the leitmotif of their partnership; split responsibilities, a tenuous hold on reality, or at least the self-control maintaining an image of sanity and happiness, and a double standard in their morality, social customs and financial attitudes. They are not entire, not ‘like everybody else’, and rather than distinguish them from the mass, their difference leaves them incomplete: under so many pressures, their marriage is too strained and themselves too separate for it to be anything but a delusion. At the very beginning of the relationship, this pattern of dream, illusion and futility is obvious; the love that should be satisfying, vigorous and uncomplicated is actually the reverse.

Each of the two bring with them their own ideals and emotional needs, baggage that both binds and divides them. Under the spell of a romantic promise, yet ultimately wishing for divergent things, this is not the meeting of minds and souls popularized in the general consciousness, and which Rosemary had with all the sentimentality of her age and generation worshiped in Section 1 as ‘Dicole’ (an impression engendered principally by the couple themselves and a pretense stoutly maintained until Dick’s break-down), two halves of a rose-tinted whole. The name, playfully crafted in their earliest months together, reveals the longing for closeness and excitement, and even the faultless exterior they show to the world. Above all, though, it suggests a melting and welding of identities; in the ‘idealization of togetherness (‘twoness’)’, the discovery of a kind of fulfilment.[1] For Nicole, this is the security of self, reconstructing the woman after the madness of the girl, and finding equally in Dick ‘an untarnished male-authority’, the good father to replace the sinister spectre of her own, and a lover to return her to the world of romance, hope and joy: ‘she thanked him for everything, rather as if he had taken her to some party . . .’[2] She sees in him at once her youth and her maturity; either as father or beau could he have taken her to a dance, a return to the sheltering care of a doting parent and the girlhood she had brutally lost, or a thrilling confirmation of the power of her beauty over men.

Still, there is something strange about the transference of affections to Dick: he is more a stage in the recovery process, ‘all soft like a big cat’ (in the words of her pathology), gentle enough to be non-threatening, but masculine nonetheless to interest a budding sexuality, than a man in his own right. Indeed, he is ‘a sort of stuffed figure in her life’, a dream of fun, youth and passion she attaches herself and her emergent reason to. To an extent, he fills the void, the yearning for a partner simply to complete her and remind her that, like the golden days before the trauma of the rape, there is something exhilarating still to live and get better for. Nevertheless, in order to merge with the upright gentleman she must repress her own nature, overlaying her grandfather’s ‘[confused] . . . values’ with another sexual paternal figure. It is a disturbing and ultimately frustrating development, not particularly because it prevents her from achieving independence or closure (it could be argued, of course, that Dick and his morals are necessary for her final flowering at the end), but because it associates the modern era with the fantasies of romantic love and its inevitable curtailing of the individual. The songs they sing and hear with one another symbolise the patina of the American dream in the boom of the Roaring Twenties and, either as a contrast or complement to, the long stretch of its history. ‘The thin tunes, holding lost times and future hopes in liaison, twisted upon the Swiss night’; their promise is the expectation of America, their disappointment the failure of its ‘fraudulent’ ideals.[3]

For Dick, his relationship with Nicole is the seductive pull of a continent. Made up of the ‘illusions of a nation’, he wants so much ‘to be kind, . . . to be brave and wise’ and, at the moment the umbilical cord of beliefs tying him to the motherland starts to wear, he is enthralled once more by America. Now in its most modern incarnation (a natural progression from the ‘generations of frontier mothers’ to the wounded girl of the dissolute and topsy-turvy Jazz Era), via the popular love airs of the day, the New Rhodes scholar, the dreamer from the States’ ivory towers, fulfils his people’s desire for hope, youth and gaiety, and his own yearning ‘to be loved’. Such vanity is America’s also and Dick is drawn to the same things the audience of the period would have appreciated: beauty, the bloom of the girl-woman, sweetness and the potential for greatness, a ‘true growing’. However, reality imposes itself on both: he ‘wished she had no background, that she was just a girl lost . . .’ The vision may not continue, she possesses too much history; the problems that Dick must cure. Nicole is all the dreams that bring him back and all the issues that keep him tied to the ugly actualities of this life. As Stern argues, Dick, ‘naively attached to a false view of the past as incorruptibly good and of the future as transcendent’, is the ‘ideal America’; Nicole, ‘confused, fractured, damaged’, is an ‘America scarred by the harsh contest for money and power characterising the post-World War I era, the real America’.[4] The two interact, the former bolstering the latter through dark times, but you cannot live in a world where both roads are pursued equally; the idea shatters before reality and ending only in a bitter dissatisfaction.

This is what Dick and the professors realise when they discuss his developing relationship with a patient. Can he combine the two roles, the ideal husband and matter-of-fact doctor? ‘What! And devote half your life to being doctor and nurse and all – never!’: Franz, with the hard-won knowledge of centuries of European experience at his back, answers with the truth. As soon as Dick accepts the double burden, the partitioning of dream and actuality, lover and professional, he is stuck until she is finally weaned. In her second childhood, he tries so hard to protect her from the brutalities of the universe, but learns too late that it is the idealist, not the survivor with her grandfather’s eyes, that will fail in a society where money, drink and excess corrupt all the good men. Initially, he may seem to meet all his principles, but his potential to become ‘the greatest [psychologist] that ever lived’ (as superlative and absolute as the American dream itself) is wasted through his resolve to satisfy his heart, in addition to his grand ambitions.

Ultimately, the growing relationship between Dick and Nicole is doomed. It is the tragedy of a Hamlet, torn between two conflicting desires and two possible courses of action, either to let go or to commit himself wholly to its execution, who went after his Ophelia, already mad, and failed. ‘Necessarily he must absence himself from felicity a while’; happiness supposedly lies in Nicole, yet therein, as Hamlet warned his Horatio, is death and the decline of his tale. He chose not to; and so his promise remains unfulfilled, their relationship is destined for disaster and the dreams of America are forever tainted.

[1] ‘Tender is the Night: Ordered Disorder in the Broken Universe’, E. W. Pitcher, ‘Modern Language Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Autumn, 1981), pp. 72 – 89, Modern Language Studies, p. 75

[2] Ibid., p. 85

[3] Ibid., p.75 [4] ‘Tender is the Night: The Broken Universe’, Milton R. Stern, Twayne Publishers, 1994, p. 135

Crimes Without Consequence

The implications of modernist thought in F. Scott Fitzgeralds’ Tender Is the Night, become apparent when conceptualizing crime and punishment. Besides the murder of the Negro in the Parisian hotel, the idea of crime is plastic; adultery, deceit, moral depravity barely have consequences. Actions committed with good intentions often end in despair, such as the marriage of Dick and Nicole Diver. Similarly, seduction and dissimulation are not often met with ensuing punishment. Actions, whether they be morally right or wrong, tend to remain in a staid state without the traditional response. The modernists place characters in various moments and situations that do not necessarily conclude in the set conception of “punishment.” Nicole and Dick Diver both commit “crimes” of infidelity during their marriage. While Dick’s tryst with Rosemary ceases without any succinct culmination, Nicole sleeps with Tommy and ends her marriage to elope with him. Neither crime however, is met with a punishment. While Dick slowly loses his manner of attraction and wiles with women, he sinks into apathy and alcoholism. Fitzgerald does not seem to be punishing Dick in any way for his fleeting romance with Rosemary; rather, his empty life is almost an inevitability, another set of moments without weighty cause or effect. Nicole’s actual instant of infidelity is described as a “moment” – not as a crime, a moral dilemma or anything deserving traditional punishment. She drifts into her affair in the same way she tends to her garden or glances at her children. Her love for Tommy Barban is simply situational; Dick was no longer fulfilling her in the manner she expected and Tommy was in the right place to take the fall. “Struggling a little still, like a decapitated animal she forgot about Dick and her new white eyes, forgot Tommy himself and sank deeper and deeper into the minutes and the moment” (294). As she embraces Tommy in the hotel, the reader receives the sense that her lover could essentially be anyone. He loses all face and name and becomes another pawn, another performer within the “moment.”Dick’s reaction to Nicole’s adultery is completely devoid of accusation or punishment. His response to her confession is stoic and vacant. Her news could easily be about something entirely innocuous because his response elicits no inkling of condemnation or punishment. “ŒI went dancing last night – with Tommy Barban. We went – ‘ He winced, interrupting her. ŒDon’t tell me about it. It doesn’t matter what you do, only I don’t want to know anything definitely'” (299). Although he winces at her story, he still insists on hearing nothing about the circumstances and claims to be emotionally detached from the “crime.” Rosemary too, although she professes to her mother to be in love with Dick Diver, maintains a grave detachment from the actual ramifications of her actions. She kisses a married man, attempts to seduce him on numerous occasions and finally consecrates the affair without once feeling the self-castigation that she should bear considering her immoral behavior. Punishment, either of oneself or of another, does not have a place in Fitzgerald’s novel. Infidelity is met with indifference; consequence of any action is often stifled.The event of the murder in the hotel is also treated as a different problem – Dick immediately jumps to the conclusion that Rosemary’s record will be tarnished by such bloodshed. He is uninterested in the punishment of the murderer or even the elements of the crime. Rather, he insists that facts be altered to protect his precious ingénue. The crime and the punishment is hence manipulated by Dick to create a different reality – a reality that will comply to his conception of the moment. He tells Rosemary, “Look here, you mustn’t get upset over this – it’s only some nigger scrap” (110) and then considers the appearance she has to maintain as an actress. “If the situation were allowed to develop naturally, no power on earth could keep the smear off Rosemary – the paint was scarcely dry on the Arbuckle case. Her contract was contingent upon an obligation to continue rigidly and unexceptionally as ŒDaddy’s Girl'” (110). The actual murder is secondary; the only punishment that Dick considers surrounds Rosemary’s untarnished and innocent screen image. Interestingly, Dick tarnishes Rosemary’s innocence himself by allowing himself to fall in love with her. He calls her room after chasing her about the studios all morning and simply states, “I’d like to be with you now” (94) without ever considering the “crime” he is committing or the punishment that he should receive. He immediately hearkens back to their first elusive kiss in the back of the taxi cab, the protective, almost fatherly, way he took her in his arms and kissed her. “There was the remembered dust of powder over her tan – when he kissed her face it was damp around the corners of her hair; there was the flash of a white face under his own, the arc of a shoulder. ŒIt’s impossible,’ he said to himself” (94). Although he says “it’s impossible” after recalling with fondness the moment they shared, Dick bears no remorse as he leaves one lover and calls his wife. Immediately after his vision of Rosemary and his undying need for her body in his arms, he calls Nicole and demands that they have dinner and see a play in the evening. The crime is masked completely by the conventions that surround their lives. The punishment, therefore, remains unclear. They both continue a farce of a relationship while lying to themselves and negating any concept of criminality in their own actions. The moments come and go, the crimes and punishments are vague and ephemeral. The crimes of each of all the characters eventually effect their own psyches – their lives are damaged by their apparent neglect of reality. Living in each moment without bearing the consequences has a acute effect on Dick, but mostly leaves Nicole, Tommy and Rosemary unbroken.

The Triumph of Nature over Civilization: The Disintegration of Dick Diver

The exact nature of Dick Diver’s descent throughout the course of Tender is the Night is difficult to discern. It is clear enough that his disintegration is occasioned by Nicole’s burgeoning independence, but why or how her transformation affects him this way is less than obvious. Moreover, it is not at all apparent what is at stake, more abstractly, in this reciprocal exchange of fates. In this paper, I will propose a reading of this change that relates Nicole’s strength to her naturalness, her identification with instinct and natural impulse, and Dick’s strength to his civilization, his identification with the curtailment of natural impulse through psychiatry and prewar American civilization. The relationship between Nicole and Dick is such that what happens to the one must happen to the other. Both Nicole and Dick turn by the novel’s end to impulse and instinct, but while Nicole does this by gaining an independent self-consciousness, Dick achieves this only through drinking. Throughout the novel Nicole is identified with the childish and animalistic wildness of instinct. This is most obvious in the uninhibited expression of emotion which characterizes her episodes of madness. We see, for instance, her frenzied laughter as she rides the Ferris wheel and causes her car to crash. As the car finally comes to a halt, “she, [Nicole], was laughing hilariously, unashamed, unafraid, unconcernedŠ.She laughed as after some mild escape of childhood” (192). And as a patient at the clinic, after having her affection for Dick rebuffed, we are told, “Nicole’s world had fallen to pieces, but it was only a flimsy and scarcely created world; beneath it her emotions and instincts fought on” (143).As the story progresses, though, the expression of these impulses become less openly dangerous and abnormal and more linked to her growing sense of self. One more restrained way in which Nicole is identified with impulse is her use of money. Money in the story is a sort of materialized passion, the tangible expression of an appetite to possess and control. Money becomes more and more plentiful as the story moves on, such that by the beginning of book three, after Dick gives up his stake in the clinic, “the mere spending of it, [money], the care of goods, was an absorption in itself. The style in which they traveled was fabulous” (257). Nicole’s relation to impulse is also demonstrated by her attractions to others, culminating, of course, in her relationship with Tommy Barban. Fitzgerald tells us, for instance, that “the people she liked, rebels mostly, disturbed her and were bad for her‹she sought in them the vitality that had made them independent or creative or rugged, sought in vain‹for their secrets were buried deep in childhood struggles they had forgotten” (180). It was this raw vitality which Dick increasingly lacked‹he was far from rugged and becomes less and less creative through the course of the novel‹and that she saw in herself that became the focus of her external interest. Her search for this energy in others was an expression of her own growing awareness of this energy within herself. I think it is noteworthy, as well, that Fitzgerald links this energy to childhood struggles. If the source of such interior strength is the experience of childhood, then perhaps Nicole’s difficulty in finding this in herself can be explained by the fact that she has not left childhood. For much of the novel, she is still Dick’s surrogate daughter and has yet to extricate herself from that role. One might also use this fact to explain her poor relation with her own children who seem, on the whole, more mature than she. How could she be a mother to children when she is a child herself?Near the end of the novel, this identification of Nicole with instinct becomes more explicit. On page 280, for example, we are told that “Nicole had been designed for change, for flight, with money as fins and wings” (280). Freedom is her nature, but it is a freedom likened to that of animals. There is a wildness inherent in her, a unconstrained passion for movement. Fitzgerald continues in the next line, “the new state of things would be no more than if a racing chassis, concealed for years under the body of a family limousine, should be stripped to its original self” (280). Again, Nicole is represented by a unruly, passionate, and impulsive object. (I might also note the subversive power of the image in its denial of Nicole’s familial role).The culmination of Nicole’s growing awareness of the wildness of her nature is her relationship with Tommy Barban. The exchange between her and Tommy in their impulsively procured hotel room is very illuminating in this regard. Tommy asks her pointedly, “Why didn’t they leave you in a natural state?,” following up with, “You are the most dramatic person I have ever metŠAll this taming of women!” (293). Nicole stays silent through most of this, feeling “Dick’s ghost prompting at her elbow,” but refusing to pay it heed, listens instead to Tommy’s exposition of her nature. In the end she accepts his understanding of her as her own, endorsing his impulsive naturalness with her own and “welcom[ing] the anarchy of her lover” (298).Dick’s path is decidedly different. Throughout the first half of the book, Dick is presented in a very positive light. He is handsome and charismatic, the center of his social world. We are told that “save among a few of the tough-minded and perennially suspicious, he had the power of arousing a fascinating and uncritical love” (27). Due to people’s affection for him, he becomes the head of his social group. He is shown very much in control of his environment. We learn later that Dick is a psychiatrist with a brilliant mind who, if he could only organize his thoughts on paper, would lead to great advances in the subject. For all the emotional attachment he engenders in others, he himself‹except for aspects of his relationship with Rosemary, which we know is new for him‹is not given to emotional excess. As a friend of his says, “You are not a romantic philosopher‹you’re a scientist. Memory, force, character” (117). Dick’s role as a scientist is not, however, impersonal observation. He is a clinical psychiatrist and works to bring those who are mentally disturbed back to the “normal” social world. It is in this capacity that he first meets Nicole. She is a patient, and it is his charge to alleviate her hysteria. In this regard, he must curtail the excesses of impulse and emotion that preclude her functioning according to social convention. She is wild, and he must tame her, domesticate her, bring her into the company of civilized men and women.Aside from this professional concern with bringing the mad into civilization, Dick is also very invested in his particular conception of civilization. We read, for instance, of Dick’s early “illusions of the essential goodness of people; illusions of a nation, the lies of generations of frontier mothers who had to croon falsely, that there were no wolves outside the cabin door” (117). Further on, as Dick becomes more reflective, he begins to question dying for one’s beliefs and of the social imperatives “to be goodŠ.brave and wise” (133). What prompts this questioning is the war, which shook Dick deeply. We see this most clearly in 1.xiii where he and his entourage visit an old battleground. There, Dick becomes melancholy and “his throat strain[s] with sadness” (57). He also proclaims dolefully that “all of my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love” (57). In this odd statement, Dick takes ownership of this world and feels a great personal loss at what has happened even though he did not directly participate. The importance of the war to Dick is further shown by the scene in which he helps the red-haired Tennessee girl looking for the grave of her brother.In these ways, then, Dick is portrayed as the protector of civilization, mourning the disillusioning effects of the war while working to repair civilization by treating the psyche. We are told a little over half way through the novel that “Šsomehow Dick and Nicole had become one and equal, not opposite and complementary; she was Dick too in the marrow of his bones” (190). Given the novel’s outcome, there is an air of paradox to this statement. Clearly Nicole and Dick end the novel in very different conditions. How can this be if they are one and the same? Doesn’t this indicate an oppositeness or complementariness rather than a unity of identity? I think that this air can be dissipated by understanding the trajectory of Nicole and Dick’s relationship, using the identifications elucidated above, as an increasing move toward natural instinct and impulse, the effect of which is positive for Nicole and detrimental for Dick, as the only way he can handle such feelings is through alcohol.The first decisive move in this direction is Dick’s relationship with Rosemary. We are told again and again that Dick had never done anything like this before, that the emotional whirlwind in which he is caught up is entirely new. This comes out most clearly at the end of 1.xx in which Dick impulsively goes to visit Rosemary at her movie set: “He knew that what he was now doing marked a turning point in his life‹it was out of line with everything that preceded it” (91). And further on, “Dick’s necessity of behaving as he did was a projection of some submerged reality.ŠDick was paying some tribute to things unforgotten, unshriven, unexpurgated” (91). I interpret this submerged reality as the presence of natural impulse and instinct which he has hitherto repressed, the aspect of himself which it is the psychiatrist’s job to subdue in the process of bringing someone into civilization. But, as they are aspects of him as well as of every person, they are “unforgotten” and “unexpurgated.” (The inclusion of “unshriven” is interesting; as he cannot remove these aspects of himself, neither can he seek pardon for their presence. The feeling that he should need such pardon‹the idea that such instincts are wrong‹stands in stark contrast to Nicole’s unabashed expression of impulse later in the novel).This episode and others like it mark a breakdown in Dick’s civilized worldview. It is this breakdown that allows Nicole to begin finally to express her own nature, first by relapses into her hysteria and then by a more consistent and holistic embrace of instinct and impulse in her relations with Tommy. The final stages of Nicole and Dick’s break brings this out clearly.Near the end of the novel, Nicole comes to the realization that “she had somehow given over the thinking to him, [Dick],Š.She knew that for her the greatest sin now and in the future was to delude herselfŠ.Either you think‹or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize, and sterilize you” (290). Nicole, then, awakens to her natural self, recapturing sovereignty over her own person and refusing to allow Dick to fit her into his mold as to what she should be; Dick would no longer be the father with the authority of reason. As Fitzgerald says in narrating the decisive moment of their rupture, “She achieved her victory and justified herself to herself without lie or subterfuge, cut the cord forever” (302). It is crucial to note that Dick comes to the same point, but as his natural instincts and impulses were for him a “submerged reality,” he could not accept healthily this change like Nicole, for whom instinct and impulse were always much closer to the surface. The only way for Dick to handle this unearthed reality within was to turn to the bottle. There is, of course, a natural comparison to made between Dick and Tommy here. It is noteworthy that Fitzgerald explicitly tells us that “Tommy Barban was a ruler, Tommy was a heroŠ.As a rule, he drank little; courage was his game and his companions were always afraid of him” (196). Tommy does not have to drink to deal with his passions; he is a man of passion already and, as such, is more similar to Nicole than Dick. In this way, also, the love between Tommy and Nicole could have the reciprocity which Dick and Nicole’s hierarchical, paternal, doctor/patient relationship could never have. Tommy could love back where for Dick, “so easy to be loved‹so hard to love” (245).At the novel’s end, then, the naturalness of Nicole and Tommy has triumphed over the civilization of Dick. I should say, though, that I do not take this outcome to be an endorsement on the part of Fitzgerald of this impulsive naturalness. Rather, I read the novel as an exploration of disillusionment with the idealism of prewar America. I think Fitzgerald suggests as much when he posits the postwar years as the natural environment in which a story such as Dick’s emerges: “His love for Nicole and Rosemary, his friendship with Abe North and Tommy Barban in the broken universe of the war’s endingŠthere seemed some necessity of taking all or nothing; it was as if for the remainder of his life he was condemned to carry with him the egos of certain people, early met and early loved, and to be only as complete as they were themselves” (245). This plight, this condemnation, was not Dick’s alone; it was that of an American civilization thrust into a new world in which it, like all others, must now deal with the sins of past and present in its struggle for survival.