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Linotte Reads “Fifty Shades of Grey”: Chapter Four

Happy Tuesday, Persephoneers! Just to help you get through your week, I’m now on Chapter Four of Fifty Shades of Grey, and there are a lot of zingers in this one. So get set for some laughter and thoughts of, “WTF?!” as I take you through the best of the worst – or the worst of the best, depending on how you want to look at it.

I’m paralyzed with a strange, unfamiliar need, completely captivated by him. I’m staring at Christian Grey’s exquisitely sculptured mouth, mesmerized, and he’s looking down at me, his gaze hooded, his eyes darkening. He’s breathing harder than usual, and I’ve stopped breathing altogether.

Oh, her heart stopped? She died? Oh, well, too bad, so sad, that’s the end of the book, kids!

Adrenaline has spilled through my body, from the near miss with the cyclist or the heady proximity of Christian, leaving me wired and weak. No! My psyche screams as he pulls away, leaving me bereft. He has his hands on my shoulders, holding me at arm’s length, watching my reactions carefully.

Rats! She lived! Now we have to read the rest of it.

I sink to the ground, angry at myself for this senseless reaction. Drawing up my knees, I fold in on myself. I want to make myself as small as possible. Perhaps this nonsensical pain will be smaller, the smaller I am.

Anastasia Steele must be the only human being who can perform origami and fold herself into a paper crane.

 I have never been on the receiving end of rejection. Okay”¦so I was always one of the last to be picked for basketball or volleyball but I understood that – running and doing something else at the same time like bouncing or throwing a ball is not my thing. I am a serious liability in any sporting field.

Something tells me you’re a serious liability to everyone around you.

Romantically, though, I’ve never put myself out there, ever”¦ So I have always been the one to rebuff any would-be admirers. There was that guy in my chemistry class who liked me, but no one has ever sparked my interest – no one except Christian Grey. Maybe I should be kinder to the likes of Paul Clayton and Jose Rodriguez, though I’m sure neither of them has been found sobbing alone in dark places.

Oh, Ana, why do you feel you have to lower your standards when it’s clear that you have none at all?

Stop! Stop now! My subconscious is metaphorically screaming at me, leaning on one leg and tapping her foot in frustration. Get in the car, go home, do your studying. Forget about him. Now! And stop all this self-pitying, wallowing crap.

Ana wallowing in her self-pity.

I put my pen down, Finished. My final exam is over. I feel the Cheshire cat grin spread over my face”¦.This is it, the end of my academic career. I shall never have to sit in rows of anxious, isolated students again. Inside I’m doing graceful cartwheels around my head, knowing full well that’s the only place I can do graceful cartwheels.

Ana right before starting her gymnastics routine in the classroom.

It’s Friday, and we shall be celebrating tonight, really celebrating. I might even get drunk! I’ve never been drunk before.

She has yet to discover the excitement that hangovers are.

 I open the parcel and inside I find a half leather box containing all three seemingly identical old cloth-covered books in mint condition and a plain white card. Written on one side, in black ink in neat cursive handwriting, is, “Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me? Ladies know how to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks.” I recognize the quote from Tess. I am stunned by the irony as I’ve just spent three hours writing about the novels of Thomas Hardy in my final examination.

OK, this line, right above. James seems to be operating on the premise that Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a romance. It’s not, not by a long shot. It’s about the perils of being a young woman from a family of little means in late nineteenth-century England. It makes a point about the injustices and social conditions women faced at the time and what little recourse they had. There were a lot of novels coming out around this time that offered a look into society’s problems. Other books like this that came out within a ten-year period? Germinal by Emile Zola and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane.

Jose joins us. He won’t graduate for another year, but he’s in the mood to party and get us in the spirit of our newfound freedom by buying a pitcher of margarita for us all.

Does anyone else here find that this line is very stereotypical, with Jose being Mexican and all? I mean, just because he’s Mexican, does he have to be the one buying the margaritas?

Whoa. Head spin. I have to grab the back of the chair. Tequila based cocktails are not a good idea.

Whoa, head spin!

“Jose, no,” I plead. I don’t want this. You are my friend, and I think I’m going to throw up.

“I think the lady said no.” A voice in the dark says quietly. Holy shit! Christian Grey, he’s here! How? Jose releases me.

Here’s another thing that I find really problematic about this book: the use of sexual assault – or the threat of it – as a means to drive the plot. What’s worse is that the way James writes this, she makes it look as though Ana is the one at fault for putting herself in such a position and making herself vulnerable to Jose. No. Jose was her “friend,” and she thought she could trust him. He chose to try and use the situation to his advantage and to exploit her trust in him. Luckily Grey shows up and diffuses the situation, but this hearkens back to the old romance novels of the 1980s, when authors portrayed rape or sexual assault or harassment as a man’s means of showing some kind of affection for the woman he was attracted to. This is so, so, so wrong. Jose seems to think that he’s entitled to Ana’s affection, which he isn’t. He already knows she thinks of him as only a friend, but he still wants to push the issue and force her into something she doesn’t want after she repeatedly says no. That isn’t friendship or affection, that is total and complete disrespect for the other person’s well-being and safety. And someone should have kicked the crap out of Jose. After Ana puked on him.

Even when my stomach’s empty and nothing is coming up, horrible dry heaves wrack my body. I vow silently I’ll never drink again. This is just too appalling for words. Finally, it stops. My hands are resting on the brick wall of the flowerbed, holding me up. Vomiting profusely is exhausting.

Reading this book is profusely exhausting because of all the bullshit that seems to come as subtext.

“How did you find me?”

“I tracked your phone, Anastasia.”

Oh, of course he did. How is that possible? Is it legal?

Wow, Ana, you sure know how to pick ’em…

He looks frustrated, angry. What is his problem? Apart from a silly drunk girl ringing him in the middle of the night so he thinks she needs rescuing. And it turns out she does from her over-amorous friend. Then seeing her violently ill at his feet. Oh, Ana, are you ever going to live this down? My subconscious is figuratively tutting and glaring at me over her half-moon specs.

Ana’s subconscious at this moment.

 

If any of you have read this or know of anyone who has read it, were there any lines in this chapter that you laughed at, or were like, “WTF?!” about? Please share! Don’t keep us out of the loop and out of the fun!

12 replies on “Linotte Reads “Fifty Shades of Grey”: Chapter Four”

Can just ONE BOOK, ONE TIME, have a female character who goes out of her way to say, “This is something I am really, really good at.  This is another thing I excel at.  I’m not really good at this other thing, but that’s okay because I don’t actually like doing this thing, so no pity required.”  Also, can that thing that they’re bad at not be grace?  Because clumsy is not a flaw.  Clumsy is comic relief.  (This I know from experience.)  Clumsy is over exuberance at life and falling down a lot because of it.  Clumsy is not “I cannot walk and breathe at the same time, someone please rescue me!”  Not being able to walk and breathe at the same time is not a sign of clumsy, it’s a sign of stupid.
*rant over*

The more I read this book, the sadder I become. All the Ana character does is beat herself up. You know…young girls are taught to be hard on themselves for everything from the way they look to how they interact with people. It was my understanding that, as we get older, we realize how stupid it is to always think like this. I’m pretty young, and I know EL is a different generation than me. But maybe it’s possible she never grew out of this phase? Maybe part of the reason this book is doing so well is that, when Ana does something ladies aren’t supposed to do (get drunk and vomit, be ‘unattractive’, etc..) she beats herself up SO MUCH that we forgive her. It reminds me of the conversations I see about Katniss and the Hunger Games. The second Katniss isn’t the perfect heroine, people jump all over her and bash her. I’ve seen plenty of people bash Harry Potter around book 5, but usually male characters get off the hook for bad behavior. Female characters must ALWAYS be perfect, it seems. Or, if they’re not, they should be so hard on themselves that it’s nauseating to read. Like Ana. Because if a woman doesn’t automatically point out all her flaws, then it’s society’s job to step in and point them out to her.

I know I thought about that a lot when I read stuff from A Song of Ice and Fire. All the characters, including the more sympathetic ones, do stupid things at some point or another. The female characters tend to be more strongly rebuffed for it by the fanbase.

She was born in 1963.

But yes, yes!  I’m seeing this as well.  And she’s excusing all the shady behavior of the guys in her life–Paul Clayton, Jose and somehow blaming herself.  And after Jose sexually assaulted her (because forced kissing is sexual assault), Grey is still finding some way to blame her because she was so drunk.  What do we get?  “Jose is my friend…Jose is out of line.”  No, Jose is not your friend.  He may have pretended to be your friend or used a friendship with you to get what he ultimately wanted, which was you, and when you didn’t like him in the way he liked you, he tried to take an opportunity to force you into what he wanted.  Which was wrong, and totally, completely his fault, because it seems like he was trying to ply Ana with alcohol and try to get her into a situation in which he was in complete control.

In a way, James is basically showing a situation in which Jose was attracted to Ana and tried to make advances but was friendzoned, which is a lame excuse men like this use to justify this kind of behavior.  They put the blame on the woman involved and refuse to take responsibility for their actions and their inability to deal with rejection.

Gah–this book makes me all angry feminist!

“In a way, James is basically showing a situation in which Jose was attracted to Ana and tried to make advances but was friendzoned, which is a lame excuse men like this use to justify this kind of behavior.”

Yuup! This book makes me an angry feminist as well, which is why I love Jennifer Armintrout’s recaps of the chapters.

 

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