Tender is the Night
Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a commentary on the social atmosphere of the 1920’s in America and the inner turmoil of the individual struggling for the American Dream of being “the real thing”. However, Fitzgerald takes these typical themes in his work to a deeper level in the character of Dick Driver. In Tender is the Night, Dick Driver represents the superficiality of modernity that abounded in the entertainment circles in the 1920’s. What Driver, and modernity itself, represents is a turning away from the introspective romance pervasive in the turn of the century social order and embracing a sense of throwing caution to the wind in search of “terrible honesty”.
Dick Driver has a successful practice yet his hunger for something beyond his dull life. In time, his peers seduces him into accepting the lifestyle and love of Nicole, a wealthy woman from a well-to-do family. At first this appears to be what Driver has always hoped for. However the readers retrospect offers the conclusion that Driver would never be happy and would constantly be in search of something he is missing as he attempts to change only surface of himself, not the core. Fitzgerald touches on this as the downfall of his own circle of expatriates in the 1920's as they continually searched for something new and exciting. What they found was total decline of the psychological capacities as they indulged themselves in this lifestyle.
Much like the Fitzgerald’s circle of friends in the 1920’s, Dick Driver’s idea of success and social status is dependent upon entertaining other people and flattering them into liking him for a quick shot of instant gratification and popularity. Fitzgerald himself was much like Driver, as Hemingway once wrote in a letter about Fitzgerald that he “judged a paragraph by how much money it made him and ditched his juice [creative energy] into that channel because he got an instant satisfaction" . The ultimate irony of the character of Driver is that he is constantly striving to be not “like the rest after all?” , but in his effort to please “the rest”, Driver looses his own self.