The extremes of ambition are explored in Tender is the Night. All the characters are fiercely driven, some to escape treacherous, maddening pasts, others to reach the tops of the glamorous professions to which they are called. Some characters watch as their greatest hopes and biggest dreams fly out the window, or explode in a burst of pain. Others surprise us when their most unreasonable expectations of life are fulfilled. Sometimes things do go according to plan, with both disastrous and beautiful results. And sometimes, just as one dream falls by the wayside, a new one rises to take its place.
Albert McKisco is an example of a man who fulfills his dreams. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dick Diver, his dream is to write great books. As such, Albert is a foil for both the other and his leading male character.
World War I is represented in the novel as the cause of the lost dreams of a generation.