Book 1, Chapters 12-25
In a Paris restaurant called Voisins, Rosemary, Dick and the Norths await Nicole while watching the other patrons to see if any of the men have “repose” like Dick. The group is “representative of the enormous flux of American life” (53). After lunch, Rosemary schedules a showing of Daddys Girl and, while in the phone booth, overhears Dick and Nicole passionately arranging a rendezvous. That afternoon she shops with the enormously wealthy Nicole who spends money like it was water. Nicole almost forgets her date with her Dick.
On a day’s outing to the World War I battlefield near Amiens, Diver walks along the trenches. Sadly, he recalls for the group how those who fought so valiantly won because of the culture they defended and remarks “all my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love” (57). While Rosemary is impressed with his passion and knowledge, she is unhappy because her emotions are making her desperate. Abe, a veteran, pretends the pebbles he throws are grenades. Rosemary bursts into tears.
On their way back to the car, they recognize an American girl they saw on the train who cannot find her brother’s grave. They take her back to town, and soon after cheering up, she flirts with Dick and Abe as Nicole reads guidebooks.
Nicole is too tired to go to the Paris Decorative Art Exposition and Rosemary realizes she is “somewhat afraid of her” (60). As she sits on a houseboat on the shimmering Siene, Rosemary notices Abe looks terrible because of his drinking. In an effort to help seduce Dick, Rosemary drinks her first glass of champagne. She announces that yesterday she turned eighteen and Dick says they will have a celebratory dinner the next evening.
In a taxi back to the hotel, Dick tells Rosemary that he is a doctor. Rosemary tells him how much she loves him and Nicole. Although Dick is hesitant, they wind up kissing “breathlessly” in the back seat (63). However, Dick thinks her kisses are too childlike. Rosemary attempts to seduce Dick into bed and promises him that Nicole will never find out. However, he puts her off and returns to Nicole after saying “Good night, child” (65).
In the morning Rosemary receives a letter from Collis Clay who took her to the Yale prom. Rosemary and Nicole go shopping and they discuss how money plays a major role in their lives.
At lunch Rosemary realizes Dick loves her. Afterwards, everyone at the screening of Daddys Girl, especially Dick, is impressed with Rosemary’s exceptional performance and her youthful grace. Dick refuses Rosemary’s offer of a screen test by stating he is a scientist. Nicole leaves with the Norths and Diver is left with Rosemary and Collis who leaves soon after. Dick and Rosemary agree to remain only five minutes at the party he has promised to attend but “she was entirely unprepared for the impression that the scene made on her” (71).
The party is like a movie set, the guests like characters. Rosemary overhears negative remarks about the Divers: “I’ve never really been able to get very excited about them, or their entourage” (72). After leaving, she and Dick embrace passionately. Dick admits his love for Rosemary and emphasizes again that Nicole must not be hurt. Rosemary thinks that the love the Divers share is more like the platonic love she feels for her mother. Diver tells Nicole that Nicole is not strong. Back at the hotel, they kiss in the stairwell. Rosemary doesn’t miss her mother at all.
Diver throws a luxurious going-away party at the Ritz for Abe North, who is to return to the United States the following day. They laugh, play outlandish games at the expense of the waiters and Rosemary, believing Diver to be the nicest person in the world, falls even more deeply in love. Rosemary promises Mary North to help her get her drunken husband Abe home so he can meet his 11:00 train and therefore cannot leave the party with the Divers. Somehow, she winds up on a carrot wagon with Collis Clay and the Norths and thinks as she looks up at the chestnut trees “at last I’ve been on a wild party” (79).
Severely hung over, Abe North stands in the Paris train station waiting for Nicole: “he was scarcely recognizable” (90). He is undeniably an alcoholic and Nicole lectures him: “when you get drunk you don’t tear anything apart except yourself” (91). Rosemary, Mary North, and Dick arrive and Abe gets on the train. Suddenly, “the sound of two revolver shots cracked the narrow air of the platform” and Dick runs to help (93). Soon after, a woman is led off. Dick says an acquaintance, Maria Wallis, is the woman who shot the unidentified Englishman.
During lunch across from the Luxembourg Gardens, Rosemary tells the Divers if Collis Clay shows up to tell him to call her. Nicole is sharp with her and Dick, after noticing a “flash of unhappiness on her mouth,” wonders whether she suspects his relationship with Rosemary (87).
After Collis arrives, Nicole leaves and the men talk about New Haven. Collis laughs about an incident between Rosemary and a friend of his named Bill Hillis. Rosemary and Bill pulled down the blinds and locked the door of a train compartment. The conductor was upset that they weren’t married. The image of Rosemary with another man was all that was needed to throw Dick “off his balance and send through him waves of pain, misery, desire, desperation” and he spends the rest of the day imagining the scene of Bill Hillis asking Rosemary “do you mind if I pull down the curtains” over and over again (90).
After picking up his mail at his bank, Dick cashes a check and takes a walk around the block of the Par Excellence Studio hoping to meet Rosemary. This clandestine behavior, he realizes, marks “a turning point in his life” and it humbles him (91).
After forty-five minutes of waiting in the seedy neighborhood, Dick encounters “a thin-faced American, perhaps thirty, with an air of being scared and a slight but sinister smile” whom he manages to dodge. (92). He calls Rosemary and tells her he must see her.
Rosemary tells him she wishes he were there and continues writing to her mother telling her she has fallen in love with a new director. Dick calls Nicole, who seems a bit disturbed and asks her to go to dinner and a play. They get no answer when they knock on Rosemarys door.
The next morning, the police inform Nicole that Abe North was robbed last night in Paris and that a black man named Freeman has been arrested. Nicole and Rosemary go shopping and once again Nicole shows no regard for the price of items.
Back at the hotel the women learn that, although the call was garbled, Dick has spoken with North. Abe never left France and was going to try to free Freeman, and a shoe-polish maker from Stockholm was also to show up to help.
Dick senses a battle growing between him and Nicole. He and the two women eat lunch at the hotel next to a group of Gold Star mothers who had sons who died in the War. They are all deeply affected emotionally.
Abe North spends a befuddled day at the Ritz Bar unable to move, although he knows he should go and get Freeman out of jail. A man named Jules Peterson arrives but cannot enter the bar because he is black, and Abe goes out to meet him.
Dick sends a note to Maria Wallis, the woman who shot the man at the train station, and walks around Paris thinking how Rosemary’s beauty pales by comparison to Nicole. Later in Rosemarys room, he asks her to sit on his lap. Soon they kiss on the bed. He feels guilty having Nicole just two doors away. Suddenly there is a knock on the door and they jump up to straighten out the bed.
Abe North stands outside with Mr. Peterson from Stockholm who is in trouble for identifying Mr. Freeman to the police. However, Mr. Freeman, the prominent owner of a restaurant, is innocent and outraged others from the black community have been after Peterson. He goes outside to the corridor but when Abe leaves he cannot find him.
After Rosemary returns to her room to fetch her wristwatch, and feeling that something is amiss, she turns and sees a dead body on her bed. She screams and calls out for Diver. He thinks that Mr. Freeman was murdered by Mr. Peterson and worries that adverse publicity will affect Rosemarys career. With Nicole’s help, Dick drags the body into the hallway, calls the manager and informs him they found the body in the corridor when they were leaving the room. As a good customer, he insists on privacy. The manager named McBeth and a gendarme soon arrive.
In Dick’s room, Dick and Rosemary hear noises emanating from the bathroom and find Nicole kneeling on the floor insanely accusing Dick of invading the only privacy she has ever had and insisting he never loved her. Now it becomes apparent to Rosemary what Mrs. McKisco saw in the bathroom on the night of the party.
Dick Diver is torn between the ideals of the old pre-war world and the new post-war world that emerges during the 1920s Jazz Age when America and Europe celebrated life to the maximum. Rosemary Hoyt represents this youthful new world. After years of dreary decay and untold loss of life the world breathes a sigh of relief and becomes obsessed with anything brand new, with wild parties and most of all with youth. And, while Dick Diver manifests the dignity, the strong work-ethic, the fine manners associated with the old world, he is also drawn to the fun-loving, youth-obsessed new age. He has stopped working as a serious scholar and doctor and now spends his days in “repose” planning elaborate parties. His attraction to Rosemary, whom he finds less beautiful than Nicole, demonstrates his attraction for this youth-crazed new world while it metaphorically illustrates his movement away from his old world beliefs, the teachings of his father, his commitment to scholarship and his role as a parent and as a doctor—a move which ends ultimately in his destruction.
Readers should keep in mind that Diver first views Rosemary as “a lovely child” (63). He takes on a protective parental role towards her and refuses Rosemarys initial invitation to make love to her. Readers should also recall that Rosemary is not even eighteen when she meets Diver. And, although she finds herself in adult situations far beyond her years and scope of experience, she is, after all, a teenager “embodying all the immaturity of the race” (69).
So, when Dick circles the block waiting for Rosemary to exit the theatre he is fully aware that this is “a turning point in his life,” and that it was “out of line with everything that had preceded it” (91). He is entirely conscious of the fact that as an adult, a father, a husband, doctor—indeed, a psychiatrist—he should not be there waiting for a young girl. After all, this is not a romantic French summer interlude between consenting adults. This is much darker. It is precisely at this point that Diver loses the battle waging inside him. As a result, violence will pursue him as his life will swirl out of control.
The novel’s theme of violence, introduced in the duel between Tommy Barban and Mr. McKisco, continues in chapter XIII, which is set on a World War I memorial battlefield. Diver realizes sadly that his old world, the world he loved well, has vanished: “all my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love” (57). Soon, his explosive love for Rosemary will be the catalyst for the destruction of his own safe, warm and lovely world on the French Riviera. Violence will strike in the figure of Maria Wallis who shoots a man to death in a railway station and will continue with the appearance of the murdered body of Jules Peterson on Rosemary’s bed where, a few minutes earlier, she and Diver would have consummated their relationship had not Abe North interrupted them.
As a character Abe North sets a trajectory for what can happen to Diver. Continuous drinking has resulted in North’s social, emotional and physical decline. At the train station he sits, a mere shadow of himself hiding his trembling hands in his pocket. Chances are he identified the wrong man as a thief because his alcoholic fog blinded him. He is the responsible one, yet he cannot take responsibility. He knows he should not remain in the Ritz bar while an innocent man languishes in prison, yet his drinking makes him helpless to take action. Whereas earlier in the novel, Dick drank little, his seduction into the wild Jazz Age life must be well-lubricated by copious amounts of alcohol.