Tender is the Night Theme of Love
Love blooms in Tender is the Night in glamorous late night parties, lush gardens, and even psychiatric clinics, all set against a landscape broken apart by World War I. The characters chase love deep into the small hours, hoping the special light of the night will illuminate love’s true meaning. In the novel, much is done in the name of the love. Sometimes these things are ugly, cruel, and even monstrous. Other times they are beautiful, sweet, and brave – the extremes of human kindness.
Questions About Love
- Do any of the characters explicitly describe their love? As in, When I love X, it’s like sliding down a rainbow, or whatever. If so, what are some examples of this? If not how does this comment on the novel?
- Can we make connections between love and war in the novel? Dick describes war at one point as "a high gust of explosive love."
- Nicole says she loves her father even after he rapes her. There are only a few moments like this in the text. Can those moments tell us anything about love? We realize this is a painful, dark side of the novel, but we can’t just pretend it isn’t there.
Chew on This
When Nicole’s love affair with Tommy starts, Dick’s affair with Rosemary stops. By comparing and contrasting this pair of love affairs, we can trace some of the movements of love in the novel.