Tender is the Night
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The film Daddy’s Girl symbolizes the falsity of appearances. Rosemary is supposed to publicly live up to the image of the perfect daughter to the perfect father. That’s why Dick can’t let a dead black man be found in her Paris hotel bed. But, Rosemary is actually "Momma’s little girl" and her father is dead, and we hear little, if anything about her relationship with him. The irony turns ugly when we think of Nicole. She is also supposed to be the perfect Daddy’s girl. As we well know, that went terribly wrong. Being Daddy’s girl to Nicole means rape and insanity.
In the end, the whole Daddy’s girl thing turns out to be a farce, and perhaps a comment on how Hollywood can perpetuate unrealistic, even destructive ideals. How do you think Nicole felt having to sit through the movie?
We aren’t just making this up; critic Ruth Prigozy is, in her essay titled "From Griffith’s Girls to Daddy’s Girls: Masks of Innocence in Tender is the Night." It’s about the whole "Daddy’s Girl" phenomenon in early 20th century film, and how it plays out in the novel.
Is everybody in the novel wearing "a mask of innocence"? Are there moments when the masks are dropped? For example, there are at least two different meanings of the term "Daddy’s girl." One is the innocent pairing of daughter and father that the film idealizes, which Nicole and her father had before he raped her. Another is the deviant sexual relationship between Nicole and her father and (depending on how you look at it) between Dick and Rosemary. Rosemary is supposed live up to her image of perfect Daddy’s girl. Is her mask dropped when she goes after Dick? Through most of the novel we view Nicole as an innocent victim. Is this mask dropped when she tries to kill herself and her family?