So that while Rosemary was a “simple” child she was protected by a double sheath of her mother’s armor and her own—she had a mature distrust of the trivial, the facile, and the vulgar.
As he took her hand she saw him look her over from head to foot, a gesture she recognized and that made her feel at home, but gave her always a faint feeling of superiority to whoever made it. If her person was property she could exercise whatever advantage was inherent in its ownership.Tender is the Night pp. 13, 23
Rosemary is not easily impressed or swayed by others. She knows what she wants and who she likes, and flattery is wasted on her. But she is not afraid of taking advantage of other’s lack of depth for her own gain. Her “sheath of armor” though keeps her from really loving those around her. Rosemary does not and will not take the way of the cross—to lose so others may gain, to find worth in all, whether they add to her happiness or not. Instead she will use others for her own ends, however immature her view of the proper ends are.
And that is the lesson for us all. We know from the beginning not to trust in Rosemary’s “double sheath.” From the opening pages we see that she’s too immature to recognize proper ends. And yet how often does our culture say, “Well, in this area—that we approve of—young kids should be able to make their own decisions.” Why? It’s only because we think they should, just like Rosemary’s mother thinks Rosemary should. But the evidence is all around us that the immature make immature decisions. We need to stop putting kids in positions to score political points for us. And no, bad mothers like Rosemary’s does not prove the State’s point that it knows best in every situation.