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The Triumph of Nature over Civilization The Disintegration of Dick Diver The exact nature of Dick Divers descent throughout the course of Tender is the Night is difficult to discern It is clear enough that his disintegration is occasioned by Nicoles burgeoning independence but why or how her transformation affects him this way is less than obvious Moreover it is not at all apparent what is at stake more abstractly in this reciprocal exchange of fates In this paper I will propose a reading of this change that relates Nicoles strength to her naturalness her identification with instinct and natural impulse and Dicks strength to his civilization his identification with the curtailment of natural impulse through psychiatry and prewar American civilization The relationship between Nicole and Dick is such that what happens to the one must happen to the other Both Nicole and Dick turn by the novels end to impulse and instinct but while Nicole does this by gaining an independent self-consciousness Dick achieves this only through drinking Throughout the novel Nicole is identified with the childish and animalistic wildness of instinct This is most obvious in the uninhibited expression of emotion that characterizes her episodes of madness We see for instance her frenzied laughter as she rides the Ferris wheel and causes her car to crash As the car finally comes to a halt she Nicole was laughing hilariously unashamed unafraid unconcerned She laughed as after some mild escape of childhood 192 And as a patient at the clinic after having her affection for Dick rebuffed we are told Nicoles world had fallen to pieces but it was only a flimsy and scarcely created world beneath it her emotions and instincts fought on 143 As the story progresses though the expression of these impulses become less openly dangerous and abnormal and more linked to her growing sense of self One more restrained way in which Nicole is identified
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