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The plot of the book revolves loosely on the question of the Diver's rise or fall.
Protagonist: Dick Diver is the protagonist of the novel. (Neither the author’s training nor his time period would have encouraged him to make Nicole the main protagonist, even though she is a key character of the story.) Dick is a promising young psychiatrist who destroys himself by marrying Nicole and drinking excessively.
Antagonist: Dick is his own antagonist. He allows himself to be destroyed by his own self-indulgence, including his marriage to Nicole, his taking of her money, which is held by Baby Warren, and by his own lack of faithfulness. In his unhappiness, he begins to drink excessively and spiral slowly downward. As with most of Fitzgerald’s characters, Dick is destroyed as a result of wealth.
Outcome: The novel ends in tragedy for Dick Diver. In the final pages of the book, Tommy tells Dick that Nicole no longer loves him. Nicole reminds Dick that he has not loved her for a long time. Dick moves out of their villa at Tarmes and returns to New York State. He starts practicing medicine again, but moves from place to place for increasingly shorter periods. Finally Nicole and the children stop hearing from him altogether.