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Themes

Time is controversial in Tender is the Night – so controversial that F. Scott Fitzgerald made notes to put it in chronological order after its publication. The novel’s sharp jumps back and forth through time can leave us pleasantly disoriented or dizzy with confusion. On top of that, the past is like quicksand for some of the characters. They need to overcome it to live happily in the present, but the more they try to outrun it, the deeper they sink. Occasionally, the past is overcome and the characters live their dreams, if only for a few moments.

Questions About Time

  1. Where is time mentioned in the novel? How is it represented? Where do we see clocks in the novel? How do we keep track of time when we are reading?
  2. How does the past factor into the novel? Can characters "get over their pasts?" Is there anyone stuck in the past? What parts of the past do they wish to preserve?
  3. How is memory explored in the novel? Are the character’s memories reliable or unreliable? How do we know?

Chew on This

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

The broken chronology of Tender is the Night helps to put us in the place of the characters.

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