The Demise of Dick and Nicole in Tender is the Night

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The Demise of Dick and Nicole in Tender is the Night

When referring to the demise of Dick in Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, I think it is impossible that we not consider the demise of Dick and Nicole as a couple. They begin the book as a unit rather like a Chinese dragon with Dick at the head and Nicole following behind, both covered by the decorative cloak of the appearances they maintained. There are several transitions that they go through that upset the balance that allowed them to maintain a functioning marriage. I believe that while there were several factors impacting their relationship, it is the increasing independence and strength of Nicole that ultimately ends the marriage, and severs the tie that allows Dick to maintain his identity.

In Italy, after he begins his affair with Rosemary, Dick is disillusioned with her. He finds that Rosemary belongs to other people. In his disillusionment, his thoughts turn to Nicole, and how she is still "his girl - too often he was sick at heart about her, yet she was his girl" (213). Rosemary is no longer his possession solely and this cracks his surface. He returns to his love for Nicole like a guard, because he is weak without it. He refers to it as "an obscuring dye" (217). He is Nicole, and Nicole is he, and at this point the line between them has been blurred to bring them together. Dick does not realize that as much as he believes Nicole depends on him, he is dependent on her. He depends on her neediness to define him. Dick knows, however, that Nicole is important to him and that the thought "that she should die, sink into mental darkness, love another man, made him physically sick"(217). Not only is this excellent foreshadowing on Fitzgerald's part, but it gives us a measure just how dependent Dick is. Physical illness is uncontrollable. If even the thought makes causes him to have psychosomatic symptoms, it is imaginable what the actuality would bring. Dick needs Nicole badly, more so than ever at this point.

Nicole on the other hand begins to become stronger within herself at this point. Nicole acts on her own to go to her father when she believes he is dying. Franz says to her "I must first talk on the phone to Dick" (250).

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