Gender and Agency in Tender Is the Night, Save Me the Waltz, and The Garden of Eden
Wagenblast, Becky Ann
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This dissertation centers its readings of Tender Is the Night, Save Me the Waltz, and The Garden of Eden through the women protagonists’ voices, a radical critical shift. By considering the evolutionary attempts of Nicole, Alabama, and Catherine, regardless of their ultimate level of success, reifies their autonomy as individuals capable and worthy of development themselves. Examining their use of language, emotions, and actions reasserts their voices as creators of their own narratives, recentering the texts as important explorations of Modern women and their conceptualizing of self on the Riviera.This important work of conceptualizing the self as other, outside the normative behaviors and conditions expected of American women of the time, is figured in these stories (as in American culture at large) as mentally unstable, diseased in some way; they make poor decisions and commit regrettable actions; they destroy as much as they create. But by courageously giving voice to their own sense of selves in a world which prizes muteness in its women, their attempts at creation are inspiring nonetheless.Chapter One examines F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night and the ways in which Nicole is able to move from the oppression of dehumanizing silence to a powerful and self-affirming fluency of language and selfhood. Chapter Two looks as Zelda Fitzgerald’s Save Me the Waltz and Alabama’s struggles toward individualization and agency. Chapter Three investigates how Catherine, the transitioning protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden, at once acts as a subversive factor against authority and is ultimately scripted as doomed because of it.