Oct 302012
 

At long last, Leila shows up with a gun, confronting Ana in her apartment.

As I argued before, Leila functions as Ana’s doppelganger, the reflection of her fears and hatreds. Specifically, she represents Ana’s fear that Christian will abandon her: she keeps saying, “Alone.” Ana assumes that it’s either lifetime monogamy with Christian, or a life of being a crazy cat lady.

Leila is also an embodiment of Ana’s jealousy.

“What do you have that I don’t?” she asks, her voice assuming the singsong intonation of a child.

The other thing Leila seems to represent is a more general debasement, becoming the wrong kind of woman.

“Master—Mr. Grey—he lets you call him by his given name.”
“I’m not his submissive, Leila. Er . . . Master understands that I am unable, inadequate to fulfill that role.”

[…]

“You look like me.” Leila changes tack, surprising me, her eyes seeming to focus on me properly for the first time. “Master likes obedient ones who look like you and me. The others, all the same . . . all the same . . . and yet you sleep in his bed. I saw you.”

[…]

“Why does Master like us like this? It makes me think something . . . something . . .
Master is dark . . . Master is a dark man, but I love him.”
No, no, he’s not.  I bristle internally. He’s not dark. He’s a good man, and he’s not in the dark. He’s joined me in the light. And now she’s here, trying to drag him back with some warped idea that she loves him.

Ana is far more upset by the idea that Leila might hurt Christian than she might hurt Ana.

Further developments are prevented when the Expander and his attack dog Taylor show up. (Police are for little people.)

My world teeters precariously in the hands of this poor, fucked-up woman. Will she shoot? Both of us? Christian? The thought is crippling.

But after an eternity, as time hangs suspended around us, her head dips slightly and she gazes up at him, through her long lashes, her expression contrite.

Much like Ana, Leila makes token displays of defiance or empowerment, but the moment Christian exerts his authority, she folds like a pair of deuces.

What will she do? What will he do? But they just continue to stare at each other. Christian’s expression is raw, full of some unnamed emotion. It could be pity, fear, affection . . . or is it love? No, please, not love!

Despite the high tension of this scene, Ana’s jealousy remains paramount.

No!  Suddenly I feel I’m the interloper, intruding on them as they stand gazing at each other. I’m an outsider—a voyeur, spying on a forbidden, intimate scene behind closed curtains.
Christian’s intense gaze burns brighter, and his bearing changes subtly. He looks taller, more angular somehow, colder, and more distant. I recognize this stance. I’ve seen him like this before—in his playroom.
My scalp prickles anew. This is Dominant Christian, and how at ease he looks. Whether he was born to or made for this role, I just don’t know, but with a sinking heart and sickened stomach, I watch as Leila responds, her lips parting, her breathing picking up as the first flush of color stains her cheeks.  No!  It’s such an unwelcome glimpse into his past, agonizing to witness.

The idea here is that Christian’s sheer dominance is enough to make Leila roll over and purr like a kitten. Not a safe assumption.

Finally, he mouths a word at her. I can’t make out what it is, but the effect on Leila is immediate. She drops to the floor on her knees, her head bowed, and the gun falls and skit-ters uselessly across the wooden floor. Holy fuck.

Annoyingly, Ana can’t be relieved that the situation is under control, she has to be jealous about Christian’s effect on Leila. She can’t stand the idea of Christian devoting any of his attention to any other woman for any reason.

I glance down at Leila and notice a very small smile cross her lips, but otherwise she remains truly impassive. A complete submissive. Fuck!  My heart chills.
This is what he needs. This is what he likes. No!  I want to wail.

[…]

I am immobilized by the horrific spectacle before me. It confirms my worst fears and plays on all my insecurities: Christian and Leila together—the Dom and his sub.

Again, Ana frames this situation in terms of her competition with other women over Christian (and Leila’s smile suggests she thinks the same way). She can’t frame it as Christian doing what needs to be done to get Leila under control. This also plays into negative stereotypes of female submissives as emotionally unstable doormats.

Taylor hustles Ana out of the apartment. Ana finds out that Ethan, Kate’s brother, is unharmed. They repair to the bar across the street, instead of, you know, calling the police or any such thing.

I can’t talk about this—I have signed an NDA. And for the first time, I really resent that fact and that Christian’s said nothing about rescinding it.

This, you may recall, was the non-disclosure agreement Ana signed way back early in book 1, without reading it. This means that, everything that has happened since then, Ana has had to keep secret even from her closest friends and family (or so she apparently thinks, having not read it). This is a far more troubling document than the infamous contract, and indicative of Christian’s “lawyers, guns and money” power over her.

Ana summarizes the situation for Ethan.

“She’s an ex, from years back. She left her husband for some guy. Then a couple of weeks or so ago he was killed in a car crash, and now she’s come after Christian.” I shrug.

Note that she says, “…come after Christian.” So far, Leila has confronted Ana on the street, broken into Christian’s apartment to watch Ana as she slept, slashed the tires of and poured paint on the car Christian gave to Ana, and confronted Ana in her own apartment with a gun. Everything threatening she’s done has been directed at Ana, not Christian. It’s as if Ana so devalues herself as a person that she can’t even imagine being hated. “Why would someone hate me? I don’t do anything. Christian does everything.” Even though Ana is narrating this story, she’s just a supporting character in the Christian Grey saga. Ana even interprets Leila’s illness as a way to get Christian’s attention.

Dr. Flynn and somebody in medical scrubs show up. Christian carries Leila down, wrapped in a blanket, and they drive off. (Didn’t somebody notice any of this?) I wish I could say that Leila was in good hands, but I can’t help thinking that they’re going to drag her to some private asylum and lobotomize her, like the Kennedys. Or just keep her doped up on tranquilizers for the next twenty years.

Well, so much for Leila. EL James introduced the possibility of a thriller subplot, but really blew it. She had no idea how to build tension or get anything interesting out of Leila. Now that the stalking ex is contained, all we have to look forward to is more Christian and Ana.

After getting drunk with Ethan, Ana goes back to Christian’s place. Still jealous over the Leila thing, Ana concludes that she can’t give Christian what he wants. She thinks, but does not say, she wants time by herself to think about this. (The one thing Christian doesn’t give her.) The mere possibility puts Christian, who was stone cold confronting Leila, into a panic.

We’ve reached a curious inversion from the first book, when Ana’s big fear was that Christian would get tired of her passive-aggressive bullshit and dismiss her. Here, Christian is the one who is terrified of being abandoned, so much he reverts to the submissive mode he had with Elena and drops to his knees before Ana. Which is obviously laughable. Ana’s not a submissive, but she’s even less of a dominant.

“No,” he breathes, his eyes wide with panic, and suddenly he drops to his knees in front of me, head bowed, long-fingered hands spread out on his thighs. He takes a deep breath and doesn’t move.

This is basically what happened between him and Leila earlier: going into kneeling submissive mode when confronted with an authority figure. This is what EL James thinks submissives are like, that they can only function in certain rules-bound situations.

  3 Responses to “The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter 13”

  1. Unrelated question – do you know if anyone has solid numbers about the proportions of male vs female subs and doms? I was wondering today (after reading a forum post where some idiot was starting with the assumption that all men are sexually dominant, when i think i’ve read that statistically men are more likely to be submissive) and i thought you might know.

  2. This was the chapter that proved to me that Ana could not possibly love Christian. When you love someone, you care for their safety. She isn’t worried about Christian in this encounter. She’s worried about herself! She only cares that she may lose him to Leila in the relationship sense. That isn’t love! I would be so scared for my boyfriend’s safety. I would’ve ran out and called the police no matter what happened. I’m starting to think even James has no clue what love is.

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