| Quote #4
"So many smart men go to pieces nowadays."
With intelligence often comes great ambition, right? Most of the people the Divers hang out with are like this. Dick is talking to Abe North and Nicole. Abe is a brilliant musician. But like Dick, he’s gotten caught up in the scene where ambition seems meaningless and success unattainable. The novel attributes some of this to the aftershocks of World War I. It explore the psychological impact of the war know one thought could happen.
| Quote #5
[B]ack in Dohmler’s clinic on the Zurichsee, realizing this power, he had made his choice, chosen Ophelia, chosen the sweet poison and drunk it. Wanting above all to be brave and kind, he had wanted, even more than that, to be loved (3.10.3).
This passage indicates that in choosing the tragic figure of Nicole, Dick decided that being brave, kind and loved was more important than being the "best" in his field. When he returns to the clinic where he met Nicole, he sees the chance to have both. But things don’t quite go the way he hopes.
| Quote #6
"He’ll be writing music in America and I’ll be working at singing in Munich, so when we get together again there’ll be nothing we can’t do" (1.14.21).
This is Mary North’s plan for her and Abe. But as we see, Abe flips the script, with tragic results. He ends up dying in an American speakeasy (a place where liquor was served during prohibition). Mary doesn’t fare as badly, and seems to recover from Abe’s death with a minimum amount of trauma.