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Themes

Innocence is extreme in Tender is the Night, a story where phrases like "lost innocence" and "the end of innocence" strongly apply. On the other hand, even the most jaded characters hold out a little innocent hope that things will somehow get better. And occasionally they do, in moments where innocence is perhaps regained in safe environments where it can flourish. Nature is one such environment. The innocence of nature is held up throughout the novel as the antidote to innocence lost.

Questions About Innocence

  1. In terms of Rosemary’s movie, Daddy’s Girl, critic Ruth Prigozy talks about "masks of innocence" in Tender is the Night. How might their various reactions to the movie comment on innocence in the novel?
  2. Is innocence a virtue in the novel? Is it a curse? A blessing? Can too much innocence hurt others? Are innocent and naïve the same thing?
  3. Is there a particular character, or characters, that represent innocence? Fitzgerald uses the word several times in the novel. Who or what is he talking about when he does?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The crowd in the Roman courtroom that mistakes Dick for a child rapist represents all Dick’s worst fears about himself – they also represent his sense of lost innocence.

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