The Tension Between Truth And Illusion In "Tender Is The Night"

912 words - 4 pages

Exploring the tension between truth and illusion is a frequent preoccupation of twentieth century American literature. Compare and contrast the treatment of this theme in `Tender is the Night' and at least one other relevant text you have encountered.

`Tender is the Night' is a novel where the presentation of the main characters at the beginning of the novel is shown to be an illusion. An illusion which often masks the seedy truth and results in people having to present an extravagant front to disguise their inner problems.

In the opening chapter Fitzgerald narrates that Rosemary was `nearly complete, but the dew was still wet on her'. Further references to `baby teeth' and children ...view middle of the document...

Nicole herself is a source of contradiction: she was `hard and lovely and pitiful'. The somewhat oxymoronic description of Nicole suggests a woman with external beauty, but internal psychological unrest, as her and her husband represented `externally the furthermost evolution of class'. When she dresses-up for one of her parties she wears an `artificial camellia', highlighting the falsity of the whole situation, to the extent that even the garden is a `grassless garden'. As the location shifts to Switzerland the illusion begins to disappear. It is apt that a country which appears beautiful, but has a reputation for underhand financial dealings, is home to a clinic for the wealthy to resolve their psychological problems. The truth is that Nicole's father sexually abused her and now wishes to cover it up with an illusion, that it was a valet that abused her; he reassures Dick that `money is no object' and his chief concern is if the `story would ever leak back to America'. In an American society where God and family values are promoted, there seems to be an abundance of immorality, which survives under the curtain that money creates. However Faulkner also tried to show how the truth is hidden in the lower ends of society. In `As I Lay Dying', the father, Anse Bundren, fakes mourning his wife's death, but in reality is pleased as now he can buy his new teeth and as it becomes apparent, start a relation with another women he...

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