Nov 132012
 

When Ana and Christian visit his parents to announce their engagement, Kate shows up and stages the intervention she should have held for Ana a book and a half ago. Somehow she has a printout of an email about the contract. Ana gets pissed off that Kate is ruining her big moment with petty concerns like possible abuse and shady documents.

“Kate! This is nothing to do with you.” I glare venomously at her, anger replacing my fear. How dare she do this? Not now, not today. Not on Christian’s birthday. Surprised by my response, she blinks at me, green eyes wide.
“Ana, what is it?” Christian says again, his tone more menacing.
“Christian, would you just go, please?” I ask him.
“No. Show me.” He holds out his hand, and I know he’s not to be argued with—his voice is cold and hard. Reluctantly I give him the e-mail.
“What’s he done to you?” Kate asks, ignoring Christian. She looks so apprehensive. I flush as a myriad of erotic images flit quickly across my mind.
“That’s none of your business, Kate.” I can’t keep the exasperation out of my voice.

After confirming that Kate has told nobody about this, Christian destroys the evidence right in front of Kate. (Never let the suspect touch the evidence!)

“I just want to know you’re okay, Ana,” she whispers.
“I’m fine, Kate. More than fine. Please, Christian and I are good, really good—this is old news. Please ignore it.”
“Ignore it?” she says. “How can I ignore that? What’s he done to you?” And her green eyes are so full of heartfelt concern.
“He hasn’t done anything to me, Kate. Honestly—I’m good.”
She blinks at me.
“Really?” she asks.
Christian wraps an arm around me and draws me close, not taking his eyes off Kate.
“Ana has consented to be my wife, Katherine,” he says quietly.

Bear in mind, Ana says this while Christian has his arms wrapped around Ana and is hate-staring at Kate.

 “Where does that e-mail fit into all this?”
“It doesn’t, Kate. Forget it—please. I love him and he loves me. Don’t do this. Don’t ruin his party and our night,” I whisper. She blinks and unexpectedly her eyes are shining with tears.
“No. Of course I won’t. You’re okay?” She wants reassurance.

Why do I feel like these are the kind of words that usually come from a crying woman with a black eye talking to a police officer on a domestic disturbance call?

“Good. I won’t tell anyone. I love you so much, Ana, like my own sister. I just thought . . . I didn’t know what to think. I’m sorry. If you’re happy, then I’m happy.” She looks directly at Christian and repeats her apology. He nods at her, his eyes glacial, and his expression does not change. Oh shit, he’s still mad.
“I really am sorry. You’re right, it’s none of my business,” she whispers to me.

This shows that Ana is eyebrows-deep in the Christian Grey zone, immersed in a cocktail of lust, greed and fear. She’s been with him almost continuously this entire book. I think the longest she’s been away from him since they got back together was when he went missing, and that was only for eight or ten hours. Even then, she’s still surrounded by people who either work for Christian Grey or are related to him. Even random women Christian encounters immediately get their panties in a wad over this guy, or so Ana believes. Ana even pulls Kate into the CG zone, so she apologizes to him. The only woman immune to Christian’s gravitational pull is Ros, the business partner who was with him in the helicopter crash,  and that’s only because she is a lesbian.

She’s one of the few women I’ve met who isn’t dazzled by him . . . well, the reason is obvious.

Ana has already decided that part of her duties as the future Mrs. Christian Grey is helping to keep his secrets. She is horrified at the thought of Christian’s kink (which is also Ana’s kink, whether she would admit it or not) be revealed.

And to think our evening could have been derailed by the tenacious Miss Kavanagh. I shudder at the thought—the ramifications of Christian’s lifestyle revealed to all.
Holy cow.

So, kink is okay as long as it below some arbitrary line that makes it mere “kinky fuckery” instead of a pathology, but it is still something that should be kept hidden? The ramifications of Christian being in the closet are not explored in this chapter. This adds an element of sordidness to this affair.

On with the party. EL James may be a middle-aged wife, mother and TV executive, but in her writing, she has the heart of a bitchy 14-year-old girl who’s never been kissed. The announcement of the engagement sends both Elena and Gretchen, the Greys’ housemaid, into paroxysms of jealousy. Elena in particular has to be an envious harpy.

“He has needs—needs you cannot possibly begin to satisfy,” she gloats.
“What do you know of his needs?” I snarl. My sense of indignation flares brightly, burning inside me as adrenaline surges through my body. How dare this fucking bitch preach to me? “You’re nothing but a sick child molester, and if it was up to me, I’d toss you into the seventh circle of hell and walk away smiling. Now get out of my way—or do I have to make you?”
“You’re making a big mistake here, lady.” She shakes a long, skinny, finely manicured finger at me. “How dare you judge our lifestyle? You know nothing, and you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. And if you think he’s going to be happy with a mousy little gold-digger like you . . .”
That’s it!  I throw the rest of my lemon martini in her face, drenching her.

The thing is, even in full wicked step-mother mode, Elena raises a very valid question about Christian and Ana’s relationship. Are their sexual desires compatible? Will Christian give up the heavy BDSM life he’s enjoyed until now for vanilla with a little extra? I can easily imagine fights down the road.

Elena also raises the point of Ana’s blatant worship of Christian’s wealth and status, and especially all the material things it can get her. “Gold digger” hits a nerve.

The two people who are most opposed to this relationship are the ones who make the most sense. I’m starting to wonder if the proper way to read the Fifty Shades trilogy is to treat Ana Steele as a Lolita-style unreliable narrator, and the words she hears other people say only vaguely resemble what they actually said, filtered through her misogyny and paranoia.

Before Ana and Elena start catfighting like a scene from Dynasty, Christian enters and yells at Elena. Elena plays the “I made you card” on Christian.

“You loved it, Christian, don’t try and kid yourself. You were on the road to self-de-struction, and I saved you from that, saved you from a life behind bars. Believe me, baby, that’s where you would have ended up. I taught you everything you know, everything you need.”
Christian blanches, staring at her in horror. When he speaks, his voice is low and incredulous.
“You taught me how to fuck, Elena. But it’s empty, like you. No wonder Linc left.”

So if Elena introduced Christian to kink, does that mean that kink is “empty”? Or is it only empty if Christian does it with somebody other than Ana?

“You never once held me,” Christian whispers. “You never once said you loved me.”
She narrows her eyes. “Love is for fools, Christian.”

And that pretty much nails Elena as the evil other woman. But no, there’s another level of absurd melodrama when Christian’s adoptive mother Grace gets into the scene.

“Get out of my house.” Grace’s implacable, furious voice startles us. Three heads swing rapidly to where Grace stands on the threshold of the room. She is glaring at Elena, who pales beneath her St. Tropez tan.
Time seems suspended as we collectively take a deep gasping breath, and Grace stalks deliberately into the room. Her eyes blaze with fury, never once leaving Elena, until she stands before her. Elena’s eyes widen in alarm, and Grace slaps her hard across the face, the sound of the impact resounding off the walls of the dining room.
“Take your filthy paws off my son, you whore, and get out of my house—now!” she hisses through gritted teeth.

At this point, I assume Elena is a friend of the Grey family, and she hasn’t done anything that merits the hostess insulting and hitting her in front of other people. It just makes no sense. The only reason it happens is that Ana’s aggression is projected onto somebody else, who has moral authority in the family-oriented ethos of this world. Ana stays pure while Grace does the dirty work.

Earlier in this chapter, we learn that Leila is recovering, under the firm control of Dr. Flynn. The two sexually deviant women who might lead Christian away from Ana have been controlled by the patriarch and the matriarch of this extended family. Christian is now ready for heterosexual monogamy, the nuclear family and vanilla sex, the only true way to live.

While Christian and Grace talk about the Elena thing, Ana goes to Christian’s room.

Perhaps the evil witch had a point.
No, I refuse to believe that. She’s so cold and cruel. I shake my head. She’s wrong. I am right for Christian. I am what he needs. And in a moment of stunning clarity, I don’t question how he’s lived his life until recently—but why.  His reasons for doing what he’s done to countless girls—I don’t even want to know how many. The how isn’t wrong. They were all adults. They were all—how did Flynn put it?—in safe, sane, consensual relationships. It’s the why. The why was wrong. The why was from his place of darkness.

Given what we’ve seen of Christian and Leila, I’d want to doublecheck that they were all “safe, sane and consensual.”

This is an important point in which Ana clarifies some of her thinking about kink. There are people who do BDSM because of anger or self-hatred or other issues. But this book’s thinking about BDSM is still far from coherent. It still thinks of BDSM as something to keep secret, and we’ve yet to see well-balanced healthy individuals doing BDSM. The overall story still seems to be insisting that Christian needs to be purged of his kink.

There’s some other stuff in this chapter about Christian formally proposing to Ana, and – dun dun DUN– Jack Hyde lurking in the bushes outside the Greys’ house, plotting revenge on Christian and Ana, after sabotaging the helicopter didn’t work.

And that’s book 2.

  8 Responses to “The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter 22”

  1. I agree on nearly everything you wrote here. But there’s one thing that’s been bugging me throughout all your comments since Leila’s been introduced to the story. It’s been bugging me on anothers authors blog as well.
    While you’ve both read the books attentively and made up your own opinion instead of buying everything E.L. wrote (like the fans of this book did and do), both of you did buy one of Ana’s assumptions without questioning it.

    And that is that Christian is the reason why Leila is heavy mental. (I can’t believe I’m actually defending Christian)
    How so? Let’s face the “facts”:

    Leila had to be in a relationship while she was seeing CG. It’s at least once mentioned in the book, that Leila left to get married. She wanted more than just a Dom/sub contract, he did not, so she left to marry another guy.

    She was married for some time, when she started cheating on her husband and finally ran away with her new boyfriend. Then he died in an accident and she went nuts. She hadn’t seen CG in a long time and as far as we know (from E.L.’s clumsy writing) she was happy until her boyfriend died.

    So, basically I’d say that Leila wasn’t ill- effected/ mentally harmed by CG or their Dom/sub relationship.
    She lost someone she loved and tried to fall back into Christian’s life.
    But unfortunatly there was already Ana with the amazing magical vagina.
    This is a case of jealousy (turned totally awry by an emotional shock, as in death of bf): Why do you get what I wanted but couldn’t have?
    There are a lot of people who feel like that – WITHOUT ever been in a Dom/sub relationship – but they’ve not lost their current lover and turned heavy mental.

    I hope I’ve made my point understandable and I would love to read your opinion about that.

    • “Fair point well made”, if you’ll pardon the expression.

      I agree that Leila’s condition is not necessarily Christian’s fault. There’s textual evidence to suggest that she was a healthy and happy sub, and she and Christian parted amicably, and she only became unbalanced because of later trauma.

      The thing is, that is not clear. Ana, and we the reader, don’t know in detail what happened (nor have we heard from any other person). Leila raises a lot of questions about Christian’s past behaviour. Ana does not ask them. She herself seems to assume that “Christian rejected Leila, therefore she went insane and wants to kill him,” because in her Christian-centric world view, that makes sense. It’s just due diligence that Ana should have asked Christian more about Leila so there’s no uncertainty. You can add that to the long list of things Ana doesn’t do.

    • I believe Christian played a role in Leila being how she is because of ow far he’s gone to keep the police our of any involvement. He won’t call them when she breaks in with a gun, calls in his own private doctors to treat her, people on his payroll who will keep her words quiet, etc.. There’s something he’s hiding. What does he have to hide, unless he’s done something so wrong that the words of a crazy woman would be believed? If she claimed he’s into kink, he could lie and would be believed. But there’s something verifiable or believable in some way, and his complete control, his larger concern about control and about his and Ana’s lives, say to be that something is hugely wrong on his end.

  2. Yes, I think we can agree on that point.

    If you continue your commentary with 50SFreed I have a little well meant warning for you:
    E.L.’s favourite phrases occur even more often than we are used to already.
    I wanted to bang my head into the wall all the time.
    😉

    Whatever you decide to do I wish you good luck.
    I came here for the 50SoG commentary but I will stay either way. =)

  3. “the words she hears other people say only vaguely resemble what they actually said, filtered through her misogyny and paranoia.”

    Oh, God, I was thinking this while I was reading these books. Somebody should make a fic or something with this.

  4. I like the idea that Ana’s an unreliable narrator. If she were real, it would explain the rampant petty jealousy over women she views as a threat. In my own reviews, I’ve stated that her low self-esteem is making her paranoid about someone taking Christian because she can’t bear the idea of living without him. That obsessiveness should be her downfall. Instead, we have women wishing to be her!

  5. To be fair to Christian’s mother, the book never tells us when exactly she arrives to the room and what she hears before slapping Elena and insulting her. Is possible she arrived a few seconds after Christian, in time to hear Elena saying she saved Christian when he was destroying himself, which happened when he was a minor. And then Christian says Elena taught him how to fuck. Just those two comments should be enough for Grace to know her adult “friend” took advantage of her son while he was underage. So IMO Grace’s anger towards Elena is completely justified, and her reaction is perfectly normal.

    That being said, these books are shit.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)