Nov 112012
 

This being Ana and Christian, they immediately go for sex, even though Christian had a life-threatening experience.

More vanilla sex in the shower. El James seems to have a particular thing for bathing, which is fine.

We also find out that Ana bought her gift that said “yes” to his proposal, before she went to see Dr. Flynn, which means that she had again denied herself power in this relationship.

In the world of Fifty Shades, jealousy=love. Ana acts like having both Jose and Christian both jealous over her is a problem, but she’s secretly preening. She even feels jealous when she hears Christian refer to his helicopter as “her.”

Ana also gives Christian his other birthday present.

He removes the lid of the box and takes out a small card. The rest of the contents are wrapped in tissue. He opens the card, and his eyes dart quickly to mine—widening with shock or surprise. I just don’t know.
“Do rude things to you?” he murmurs. I nod and swallow. He cocks his head to one side warily, assessing my reaction, and frowns. Then turns his attention back to the box. He tears through the pale-blue tissue paper and fishes out an eye mask, some nipple clamps, a butt plug, his iPod, his silver-gray tie—and last but by no means least—the key to his playroom.
He gazes at me, his expression dark, unreadable. Oh shit. Is this a bad move?
“You want to play?” he asks softly.
“Yes,” I breathe.
“For my birthday?”
“Yes.” Could my voice sound any smaller?

On the one hand, good that Ana’s giving it a try. On the other hand, she seems far from enthusiastic about it. She still seems to view her consent as “do with me what you will”, something she does for him and he does to her, rather than “hey, this could be fun and hot for both of us!” Few people want a martyr in bed or in the playroom.

This echoes the scene at the end of book 1. Ana perversely believes that by totally surrendering to Christian, he will intuit what she really wants and do it. Instead, he does what she says, resulting in a traumatic scene.

For a moment, I thought that Ana’s selection would indicate which activities she wanted to do, but by giving him the key to his playroom, she’s not exercising her right to limits.

“You’re sure?” he asks.
“Not the whips and stuff.”
“I understand that.”
“Yes, then. I’m sure.”

Okay, Ana says no impact play, no “pain” or “punishment”, and Christian says he will respect that. So far, so mostly good. This is how negotiation works.

“Now,” he says, and it’s not a request. My belly clenches, tight and hard, deep, deep down.
I put my hand in his.

“Come,” he orders, and I follow him out of the bedroom, my heart in my mouth. Desire races slick and hot through my blood as my insides tighten with hungry anticipation. My inner goddess somersaults round her chaise longue. Finally!

“Finally” is a little odd coming from Ana, given that she’s been the one passive-aggressively resisting this for nearly two books. But they do for the moment seem to be working together. Christian no longer has the accelerator stamped on the floor, and Ana is no longer yanking on the emergency brake all the time.

***

While we’re on the subject, I’d like to direct your attention to Becoming Bella Swan, a Twilight fanfiction by BellaFlan.

Meet Bella, currently in a mental hospital. She may be:

  • Bella Swan, after a nervous breakdown because Christian left her, and Dr. Cullen is keeping her drugged and locked up. Part of her delusion is that she is sometimes Isabella Flanagan, 35 years old, foul-mouthed, sexually aggressive and fed up with eunuch, abstinent vampires.
  • Isabella Flanagan, 35 years old, foul-mouthed, sexually aggressive and fed up with eunuch, abstinent vampires, who believes she is sometimes Bella Swan, timid, virginal, and willing to wait on Edward Cullen. Even when the Isabella personality is in charge, the people around her are coaxing her into being like Bella.
  • Hallucinating that there are vampires and werewolves vying for her affections.
  • Taking advantage of her status as an abject “crazy person” to vent her frustrations at the demands of the female gender role.
  • Or some combination of the above.

Becoming strangely echoes Leila, who has a nervous breakdown after the ending of her relationship with Christian, and who sees herself and Ana as different versions of the same person. The crazy one embodies the critique and the inarticulate anger and frustration that the female reader may feel while reading FSOG and its “crazy-making” viewpoint character. Its like 19th century neurotics and hysterics, women who had no language to express their critique of patriarchal society except through insanity. Leila, at this point in the story, is probably much like Bella/Isabella, locked up in a mental institution, still in Christian’s power, but unable to touch him, and her identity dissolving into Ana’s, the “good” girl. This is the old-school, Gothic way of handling troublesome women: put them away somewhere.

One can only hope that Leila will return like Rochestor’s insane first wife Bertha in Jane Eyre, spoiling the wedding and burning down Christian’s penthouse. To continue our doppelganger theme, Jane and Bertha (originally known as Antoinette) are similar in many respects, like Ana and Leila.

For a woman who’s studied English literature, Ana doesn’t seem to have learned any lessons from it. If strange, dangerous-looking women watch you in the middle of night, as in Jane Eyre, it’s time to start asking pointed questions of your future husband. (Jane even describes Bertha as looking like a vampire, bringing our tangled necklace of doppelgangers and reflections back onto itself.)

  One Response to “The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter 20”

  1. Yeah, in the real world, the police totally wouldn’t want to talk to the guy who went missing to find out details about what happened….

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