Book 3, Chapters 1-13
Dick’s partner, Franz Gregorovius’ wife Kaethe, makes it clear to her husband that she cannot abide Nicole and believes Nicole cherishes her illness and uses it to gain power. Since Dick left to go to the conference in Germany Franz has been paying a great deal of attention to Nicole and realizes he is indebted to her because it is her money after all that funds the clinic.
After Dick returns Kaethe continues in her criticism of him, pointing out to her husband Franz that despite Dick’s brilliance and his earlier enthusiasm for his work as a psychiatrist, “you’re the solid one, you do the work” (241). Franz cares deeply for Dick but at this point begins to take to heart what his wife has told him.
After his favorite patient dies of syphilis, Dick travels to Lausanne to see if he can help the son of a rich Chilean gentleman who is desperate to cure what he calls his “corrupt” homosexual son (244). Here he meets another member of Book I’s beach group, Royal Dumphry, who informs him that Nicole’s father Devereaux Warren is in the City and apparently near death. At a hotel, Dick finds Nicole’s father dying from alcoholism; he begs Dick to see Nicole. Dick calls the clinic to ask Franz whether he thinks Nicole should know but inadvertently Kaethe informs Nicole about her father and Nicole immediately leaves for Lausanne. However, somehow Warren manages to leave his death bed and flees without seeing his daughter.
The following week, a patient named Morris who was admitted to the clinic for alcoholism, leaves on grounds that Dick continues to smell of liquor. Dick admits only to an “indiscretion” and decides to cut back on his drinking but after talking the situation out with Franz and claiming he is the last man to abuse alcohol, he and Franz decide to end their partnership and that Dick should leave the Swiss psychiatric clinic.
Instead of feeling defeated, Dick feels relieved and he and Nicole decide to return home to the Riviera. On the way, they travel like royalty and decide to stop in Boyen to visit the former Mary North who is a countess now having married the Count di Minghetti. Mary becomes their target of derision, and they warn their own children to avoid one of her sick children.
Lanier tells his parents that he was instructed to take a bath in the leftover bathwater of the sick child and Nicole and Dick inadvertently scold a woman they believe to be a servant. It turns out, however, that the woman is their hostess’ sister-in-law, who helps Mary her brother’s wife as tradition dictates. Mary is angry and accuses Dick of drinking too much. The old friends part in anger.
Back home on the French Riviera, Dick fires Augustine the cook for drinking their vintage wines. Drunk herself and angry the cook accuses Dick of drinking all the time. A distraught Nicole tells Dick that he has changed. He used only to create and now he wants only to smash things up. She also doesn’t like his obsessive interest in the children and has begun to feel it is “unnatural” (267). Suddenly Dick decides he wants to join the Golding yacht party they can hear outside.
On the yacht, Dick and Nicole meet Tommy Barban who once fought a duel with Mr. McKisco. Once again, he finds himself smitten with Nicole and the two rekindle their friendship while Dick gets into an argument with Lady Carolyn after she gossips about him mixing with inappropriate people in Lausanne (272). Later, a drunken Dick attempts to get Nicole to jump overboard with him.
Tommy rescues her and tells Nicole that Dick is drinking too much. Later, with Dick passed out in the back seat he drives them home and spends the night at Villa Diana.
In the morning, Dick apologizes to Nicole for his behavior and she begins to see him with new eyes wondering that “his awful faculty of being right seemed to have deserted him at last” (275). She knows the men are arguing over her and she enjoys the feeling. She is surprised to find she wants to have an affair with Tommy and gives him a jar of American camphor rub to cure his cough against Dick’s instructions. Angry with each other, the Divers receive a letter from Rosemary announcing her arrival at Gausses Hotel the following day.
Before meeting Rosemary, Nicole realizes she and Dick are no longer the same couple: “the most unhappy aspect of their relations was Dick’s growing indifference, at present personified by too much drink” (280). She knows change is imminent and surprisingly feels relief, and sorrow for Dick.
Later they find Rosemary in the water and soon Nicole feels ignored and swims to shore. Dick suggests they all go aquaplaning, also known as waterskiing. He attempts to demonstrate his athletic prowess but fails three times and feels vastly humiliated and Nicole is angry at his sophomoric behavior. Mary North arrives and ignores Dick and Rosemary remembers some gossip she had heard earlier about how “Baby’s younger sister had thrown herself away on a dissipated doctor,” and how now “he’s not received anywhere any more (285). Rosemary is also aware how Nicole has changed in her feelings toward Dick.
Nicole leaves the beach after having words with Rosemary and drives home feeling happy with her thoughts clear feeling she is finally cured and free of the labyrinths in her mind that she had wandered for years. “She hated the beach, resented the places where she had played planet to Dick’s sun” (289). Then she writes a suggestive letter to Tommy. The following morning, after Dick leaves to go to Provence Tommy Barban calls Nicole.
Nicole takes pride in her youthful body and beauty as she eagerly waits for Tommy. The new lovers waste no time and spend the afternoon in a Corniche hotel. Afterwards, Nicole feels the hold Dick has had on her for years disappear.
When Dick returns he tells Nicole he had gone to see Rosemary to see “if she had anything to offer,” but then admits Rosemary had never grown up. Nicole tells him she has been with Tommy and Dick tells her not to tell him and goes to his work room. Deeply remorseful, Nicole follows and when he cruelly rebukes her the resentments she has held locked up for years are finally freed and she “is finally truly free of him. At this point, Dick realizes “the case is finished,” and “Doctor Dick was at liberty” (302).
After Mary North and her friend Caroline Sibley-Biers are arrested for dressing as sailors and picking up girls, Dick receives a phone call from the Antibes police. Dick rescues them by offering money to the police and the girls’ families.
Later Tommy shows up at the barber shop where Nicole and Dick have their hair cut and informs Dick that Nicole is no longer in love with him.
Nicole agrees with Tommy as the Tour de France cyclers pass outside led by a cyclist in red. Dick agrees to a divorce with minor provisions and walks away feeling relieved that it was over and without drama. Nicole considers that Dick had anticipated the whole thing.
For a while Dick only wants to be with his children on the beach and on the day he is to leave for America he stops at the Gausse’s Beach Hotel. Nicole and Baby observe him from afar. To Baby, he is no longer relevant but Nicole gives Dick credit for being a good husband. Dick drinks with Mary North and Caroline Sibley-Biers trying not to look at Nicole and Tommy. Mary lectures him for his drinking and calls him self-indulgent. Somewhat tipsy, Dick stands, blesses the beach and leaves for the United States.
Afterwards, Nicole marries Tommy Barban. Dick starts a practice in Buffalo which fails and moves from town to town in New York as a general practitioner. Nicole hears rumors about him, how he rides a bicycle, how he is involved with a grocery clerk, and in a medical lawsuit. He fades into obscurity, moving from town to nameless town.
In Book 3, Nicole continues to grow in mental health and physical vitality while Dick succumbs to alcoholism and physical deterioration. Since she was sexually abused by her father Nicole has shied away from reality, having been, at one point, diagnosed schizophrenic with little chance of a cure. With this in mind, Nicole’s sister Baby Warren tempted Dick with unlimited Warren money should he become her personal psychiatrist. He surrendered, sold himself in other words, and in the process gave up his chances for a brilliant career to care exclusively for Nicole.
Throughout the years, Dick cared for Nicole not just as a husband but also as her psychiatrist. In the process, she became entirely dependent upon him and came to see him as her savior. It isn’t until Dick begins to lose his mental acuity and his physical prowess that she realizes that he is, after all, just a man: “being right seemed to have deserted him” (275). She takes him to task for his excessive drinking and begins to see his perverse attraction to young girls. Indeed, she worries about the obsessive attention he pays to his own children. In addition, after the devastating waterskiing incident, when he can no longer perform the physical feats he did as a youth, she takes more notice of her own far-healthier younger body and her sexual feelings emerge.
Fitzgerald effectively uses symbols, in this case various vehicles, to illustrate Dick’s deterioration, Nicole’s gaining in strength and the marriages deterioration. On the way to the fair, Dick drives the sports car that Nicole attempts to drive the car off a cliff. However, after she breaks with Rosemary, Nicole is the one who drives the car home, leaving Dick stranded on the beach. Shortly after, Dick is too drunk to drive home and languishes in the back seat and must be driven home by Tommy who comes to replace him in Nicole’s affections. After his self-destructive tryst with Rosemary, a depressed Dick comes home in a taxi, his honor in shreds. In the novel’s final chapter, Dick rides a bicycle.
Symbolically, giving Tommy the whole jar of camphor rub against Dick’s orders signals Nicole’s preference for Tommy. At twenty-nine, Nicole is ready to make up for her lost years and wants a change. By cutting “the cord” she cuts away her dependence on Dick and also the part of her life ruined by her father. Soon the mental handicap that has imprisoned Nicole for years evaporates and her mind becomes clear. As a psychiatrist, Dick has the ability to analyze the dynamics at play here and knows full well what the outcome will be. Simply, Nicole will end up with Tommy Barban. After she and Dick split, Nicole realizes that “from the episode with the camphor rub, Dick had anticipated everything” (289).
Although Dick Diver tragically winds up losing his earlier successful self and deteriorates into drunkenness and sexual perversity, as a psychiatrist he knew full well what he was about in bringing his marriage to Nicole to an end. He had been warned by two of Europe’s best psychiatrists that his marriage was doomed to failure because he would become husband, doctor and father to Nicole. However, it could be argued that in his decision to let Nicole go gracefully “without drama,” that he redeems himself.
The idea of redemption is furthermore enhanced at the end when Dick has “moved up higher,” to bless Gausses beach, the setting of the novel’s opening scene. Below, Nicole kneels free and happy. In this Dick is once again the successful psychiatrist. He has cured his patient, “the case is finished,” and he is finally at “liberty” (302).
At the end of the novel there is little information about Dick. He sinks ever more into obscurity. Moving from town to town, working in general practice and not psychiatry, suggests his drinking has remained unabated. Thus, in the tragic figure of Dick Diver, Fitzgerald paints the end the old world of grace and dignity in the form of the shining Lucky Dick of Yale and Oxford who is brought to his demise by the decadence of the emerging 20th century.