Tender is the Night Book, Two, Chapter Two Summary
Zurich seems less constricted that France, and Dick decides to stay another two years. "To-day" goes to see Franz Gregorovius, who was a little older than Dick, and the "resident pathologist" at Dohmler’s psychology clinic.
As they walked to the clinic, Franz asked about Dick’s wartime experience.
Dick says he was completely isolated from the war.
Franz asked if Dick was visiting him, or "that girl" (Nicole).
He tells Dick he saw some of his correspondence with her, and that he should really handle the case. He says that she’s "well" now, and has been under Franz’s care.
Dick says he only saw her once, in his soldier’s uniform, on his way to Bar-sur-aube. He saw her with a nurse, of whom he asked the "tram" schedule.
He thought the girl was incredibly beautiful and they talked. Dick says he felt sorry for her but nothing more, until she stated writing him all the time.
Franz said their correspondence was the perfect treatment, and that he’s happy the way things turned out.
But – he sent the girl into town (unaccompanied even) so he could tell Dick her story before he sees her again.
The clinic belongs to Professor Dohmler, and is about ten years old. When it opened it "was the first modern clinic for mental illness." It doesn’t look like one though; it looks like a little retreat, unless you look closely.
Franz leaves Dick in his office for about 30 minutes, and Dick remembers the girl.
In eight months she sent him around 50 letters. Half the letters indicated poor mental health; the other letters were "normal" but showed constant growth.
Still, from the first letters Dick guessed some of what the girl’s problem was.
He remembers her third letter. She teases him that he’s kind of a bad boy, says he reminds her of a cat, and apologizes for writing so often. She complains of a headache, says she speaks three languages, and alludes to having been in restrains a few days ago. She also says she wants to write to her father, whom she loves.
She signs the letter (you’ve probably guessed) Nicole Warren.
The second letter tries to explain why Nicole was committed.
She was getting terribly confused and didn’t know why. And it kept getting worse.
Then one day she just kept on walking down the road until "they" pulled her into a car with nurses in it. She says she’s done with the place now and has asked her dad to come for her.
In the third letter we see, she tells him she broke a bunch of "phonograph records" and that the nurse is mad at her. She says a doctor in Chicago didn’t believe she was sick, but that she was "mad" then and that when she’s mad she doesn’t care what people say.
In another letter she says she’s cured but completely ashamed and feels abandoned by her family. She thinks people (not clear who) knew what was making her sick and kept it from her.
Another letter says she will stop writing to Dick because she’s not well. And then there’s a month gap, before she changes for the better and writes him that she’s completely changed for the better.
He answered all her letters right away, except when he was ill with the flu.
After this memory of Nicole’s letters, Franz comes back in to tell Nicole’s story to Dick.