Earlier in this book, I was intrigued by the possibility that Christian is unwilling or unable have vanilla relationships, and that the consent principles of BDSM might actually provide a structure that would contain his controlling and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Christian’s controlling tendencies would be the problem, and the consent and negotiation ethics of BDSM would be the solution, letting Ana and Christian work out a way they could have a relationship.
That’s actually the inverse of the equation the book operates on. Christian’s controlling, invasive ways are less of a problem for Ana than his insistence on BDSM. She’s fine with being a kept woman and totally dependent on him; it’s the spanking and bondage she can’t handle.
Ana’s attempt to use sex as a weapon by molesting an asparagus comes to naught. She finally says she wants to leave.
“You know, when you fell into my office to interview me, you were all yes sir, no sir.
I thought you were a natural born submissive. But quite frankly, Anastasia, I’m not sure you have a submissive bone in your delectable body.” He moves slowly toward me as his speaks, his voice tense.
“You may be right,” I breathe.
“I want the chance to explore the possibility that you do,” he murmurs, staring down at me. He reaches up and caresses my face, his thumb tracing my lower lip. “I don’t know any other way, Anastasia. This is who I am.”
This passage makes little sense. If Christian thinks Ana is not at all submissive, why is so determined to get her to submit to him? There could be an interesting My Fair Lady dynamic between them, instead of this back and forth. Also, we’ve seen that Christian can do vanilla, and Ana can do kink. Is a compromise between them so impossible. Apparently it is.
Soon tears are streaming down my face, and I really don’t understand why I’m crying. I was holding my own. He explained everything. He was clear. He wants me, but the truth is, I need more. I need him to want me like I want and need him, and deep down I know that’s not possible. I am just overwhelmed.
I don’t even know how to categorize him. If I do this thing… will he be my boyfriend?
Will I be able to introduce him to my friends? Go out to bars, the cinema, bowling even, with him? The truth is, I don’t think I will. He won’t let me touch him and he won’t let me sleep with him. I know I’ve not had these things in my past, but I want them in my future.
And that’s not the future he envisages.
Even after Ana says she wants to leave, he still drags her around by the hand, bundles her up in his suit jacket because its cold, gets the valet to fetch her car, and criticizes it, even hinting that he will buy her another one. Christian is so relentlessly controlling that it’s starting to look like a mental illness, and I’m wondering if he can engage in ordinary social interactions. Add to that the fact that he thinks a three-month heavy D/s contract is “taking it slow”.
Ana, meanwhile, is so meek, so willing to make a big deal about tiny, symbolic assertions of her will when she’s being lead around by her nose, so defiantly and stubbornly innocent and passive, that she seems just as freakish as Christian.
‘This is all I know.’ [Ana remembers him saying]
And as I weep into my pillow silently, it’s this last idea I cling to. This is all I know, too.
Perhaps together we can chart a new course.
I keep thinking of the ending of Alan Moore’s classic The Killing Joke.
See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum… and one night, one night they decide they don’t like living in an asylum any more. They decide they’re going to escape! So, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, just across this narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in the moon light… stretching away to freedom. Now, the first guy, he jumps right across with no problem. But his friend, his friend didn’t dare make the leap. Y’see… Y’see, he’s afraid of falling. So then, the first guy has an idea… He says ‘Hey! I have my flashlight with me! I’ll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk along the beam and join me!’ B-but the second guy just shakes his head. He suh-says… He says ‘Wh-what do you think I am? Crazy? You’d turn it off when I was half way across!
That’s how this book depicts those two characters. They’re both so far off shared reality, so locked into their extreme positions, so unwilling to compromise or even argue based on logic, that it becomes difficult or impossible to parse out their relationship.