Tender Is the Night, Fitzgerald, Tanning, Clothing, Fashion


Literature in English, North America

Document Type

Critical Essay (Special Topic)




In Tender Is the Night (1934), Fitzgerald uses clothing and fashion to heighten the sense of time period as well as to enhance the ways in which the world, on both sides of the Atlantic, was changing. However, changes on the surface frequently do not reveal a change in underlying motivations for dress. In Tender Is the Night, Fitzgerald uses clothing in symbolic ways that allow characters to perform roles to achieve their goals. Through the ways bodies are shaped in the novel, Fitzgerald reveals that clothing, shopping, and perfectly bronzed skin have the power to make great economic statements about oneself. Additionally, clothing in Tender Is the Night demonstrates ways in which traditional gender roles and stereotypes were changing during the modernist era. Though many things had changed during the 1920s, characters continued to use their bodies as blank tablets upon which to write, enacting powerful and purposeful performances that always have rhetorical ends. Fitzgerald’s use of clothing in Tender Is the Night reflects the way that clothing, particularly for those abroad, had the power to demonstrate societal changes in gender roles as well as social class.