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The Women of Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night

The Women of Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night

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Published by: Chanin on May 11, 2010
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The Strength of Fitzgerald’s WomenEven without looking to outside sources the reader of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s
Tender Is The Night 
can see the strength given to the women in the story. Three female characters in particular are shown to gain more strength while the one constant figure in which they all interactdisintegrates into oblivion. This seems rather strange based on the fact that women in the 1920’soften were not considered as prominent as men, but the characters of Baby Warren, NicoleWarren/Diver/Barban, and Rosemary Hoyt are all strong and are less in need of a man than anyother female or male characters within the story.In fact in some way, each of these feminine characters is more male than their malecounterparts. This maleness is the strength that they use to keep themselves safe and prosperous.Two of the characters refuse to need males in their life as anything more than an accessory. Theother only needs a male in her life to help her, it would seem, maintain her identity, but in everyother way she is more independent than most. Baby Warren becomes the male factor in theWarren family and in the protection of her sister Nicole. Baby is a stable part of the story before Nicole and Dick are married, during their marriage, and as they are divorced. She it the staticcharacter that does not grow at all but is a presence for other characters in the book. Nicole isthe wife of Dick, but that is only part of her personality, she is a woman of her own fracturedmind, but is not as reliant on Dick as she at first seems. Then there is the young starlet,Rosemary Hoyt, who is on her own, and very happy being unencumbered with a man and lovesher own independence.Through these three women, Fitzgerald, it would seem, shows a part of his life. He usesmany of the characters in the book to represent his current state in life. The novel allows thereader to understand that Fitzgerald is disintegrating into oblivion, because of his real wife’s
 
mental incapacity and his inability to care for her. The novel, therefore, needs the strong womento alleviate the feelings of frustration and the inability to fix his real life and to pretend that hiswife, Zelda is capable of being like these women. Even Nicole, who has been sexually abused by the father as a teenager, ends up being just as strong as Rosemary and Baby, and maybe evenstronger. These women show the strength that Fitzgerald may unconsciously want from his ownwife, and through them the reader learns that women in Fitzgerald’s worlds tend to be the strongcharacters, while the men are weak.The first and least discussed strong female character is Baby Warren. In Tiffany Joseph’sarticle, "Non-Combatant's Shell-Shock": Trauma and Gender in F. Scott Fitzgerald's
Tender Isthe Night 
” the comment is made that “power and communication rarely exist for women in” thiswork. While this is not quite true, she does acknowledge that Baby Warren is the exception. For the first part, one would need to acknowledge that Baby’s real name is Beth and she is the older sister of Nicole, but for some reason the nickname of Baby has stuck to her. This nickname ismisleading because Baby Warren does not have a soft exterior, but a type of masculine andfinancial power that all seem to sense (Toles 424). She is no nonsense and goes for what shewants, and does not take no for an answer.This power is even more obvious when she tries to buy, and eventually does buy, Dick Diver to care for her sister, Nicole (Fitzgerald 160). This protection is also a way to make it sothat she, Baby, does not have to take responsibility for the care of her sister. This is a malegesture in that the caring for a child is the mother’s or woman’s work. She states, “I don’t mindthe responsibility…but I’m in the air” (Fitzgerald 159). This understanding of an unwanted burden is revisited when Franz entices Dick to purchase a clinic with him. Of course, Dick doesnot have the money, but Baby and Nicole do (Nowlin 67). When Baby hears of the possible
 
 purchase her first thought is “that if Nicole lived beside a clinic” Baby would have even less toworry about (Fitzgerald 182). Through the use of money, Baby relinquishes all responsibility of  Nicole to Dick and really to the clinic, and knows that her sister is safe. She has struck deals andin a sense is proven herself to be “economically” a male rather than a female (Fitzgerald 52).The term “economically a boy” is also used to describe the starlet, Rosemary Hoyt. Sheis another character that is stronger than most women in the story. While Tiffany Joseph’sarticle says that she does not have much communication or power, this is not completely true.Even though Rosemary is young she is her own person and continues to live in that fashion(DiBattista 33). This independence begins with Elsie Speers, Rosemary’s mother, who hasgroomed her daughter to need no one but her self economically. In fact Speers mentions thatRosemary was “brought up to work – not necessarily to marry” (Fitzgerald 52). Speers goesfurther by telling her daughter to have a liaison with Mr. Diver, by saying to “go ahead and putwhatever happens down to experience” (Fitzgerald 52). This is the approval that Rosemaryneeds to go after Dick (Nowlin 66).Even at that young age, Rosemary knows that she and Dick of similar when she states“we’re such actors – you and I” (Fitzgerald 113) meaning that they play for those around them(Hall 620). The only difference is that Rosemary accepts it while Dick denies it. Toward the endof Book 2, Rosemary meets up with Dick again, except for this time she is not an innocent child but an experienced adult. The independence of her own life is thrown at Dick when she asks“But what have you got for me?” (Fitzgerald 221). In this instance, rosemary is no longer thenaïve young woman trying to seduce her first lover, but an experienced woman finally realizingthat first love was not as great as she remembered (Cokal; DiBattista 35; Nowlin 66; Toles 436).

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