Tender is the Night
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Baby Warren is portrayed as a rather cold woman, insulated from the world by her wealth. Baby is rarely humanized in the novel, mostly because she dehumanizes those around her. It’s hard to find a tender Baby-Nicole moment in the novel, or a tender Baby-Anyone moment really (though we’d love to see you argue for one or more).
Throughout the book she thinks of Nicole as "a gone coon," a damaged object to be protected (though she doesn’t seem to know about the rape). When she first meets Dick she tells him she wants to "buy" Nicole a doctor to marry. Nicole’s beauty overwhelms Dick’s desire to tell Baby to take a flying leap. When Baby frantically comes to Dick’s rescue in Rome, we think, "wow, maybe she does have a heart," but then when it’s all over she has to go and think this: "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."
Pretty harsh. And in the end, she’s happy to toss Dick off like a dirty sock. She’s at the Villa Diana on the day of Dick’s final departure, and she’s like, leave already. When Nicole sticks up for him, Baby says, "When people are taken out of their depths they lose their heads, no matter how charming a bluff they put up." Nicole tells her, ""Dick was a good husband to me for six years. All that time I never suffered a minute’s pain because of him, and he always did his best never to let anything hurt me." And Baby replies, "That’s what he was educated for." How do you feel about this? Are her views of Nicole and Dick dehumanizing, like we said, or is she just being practical, overwhelmed by the responsibility of keeping Nicole safe?