Monday, July 9, 2012

Chapter By Chapter synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 21

Vacation post!

Before I begin, I wanted to talk about the VW Beetle thing. Christian doesn't want Ana in a VW Bug because it's unsafe. So he buys her an Audi instead. Later in the book, he says that he thinks German and Swedish cars are safer and better. Apparently he hasn't heard why the VW Bug is referred to as "Das Auto."
Der Wagon ist kaput. (This is the car Christian bought for Ana. After an accident.)

This is the car Christian made Ana get rid of. What's the difference? Oh yeah, the engine in this one is in the back.

Anyway, my brother was talking to my mom about how he wants to buy my older niece, Triple C, a classic car and help her rebuild it, learn how to change its oil and work on its engine and all that. They talked for a bit about how any classic car would need a new engine with fuel injection and all that because actual classic cars only get about six miles to the gallon. Then my mom said, "They're just so much safer." So I had to join the convo just because: Safer? You don't say? I asked about steel frames and fiberglass and airbags and all that. My brother's conclusion was, "In newer cars, there's maybe a steel frame, but it's mostly aluminum on the outside. You get a '65 GTO, and it is all steel all over. Steel frame, steel doors, everything." He then said that Little Bit will also be getting her own car when she's around eight to start working on with Daddy. My mom loved the idea because they would learn self-reliance and also have something that they could do with their father, and my brother pointed out that if either of them ever needed money, they could always sell the car for a tidy sum. "Of course, Daddy wouldn't let that happen..." he said with a laugh.( I don't think either of them would sell just because it would be their own car that they built themselves with their father whom they both worship. ) (I mean, honestly, you should see the way Little Bit looks at him, and he is the only one who can calm down ADHD Triple C when she's all wound up.)

So, in conclusion, my brother is more than willing to put the two things he loves most in the world in a classic car, but he also wants to teach them how to work on it, change oil, rotate tires, fix transmissions, et al. He thinks they'll be safer. My mom  thinks they'll be safer. Their Mom's dad thinks they'll be safer and is probably chomping at the bit to get a classic in the garage. If classic cars are "death traps," then why would the two premier men in my nieces' lives want them in one?  Why would no one object to them being excited about it?

(I think Little Bit will be more of a Chevy girl, while I totally see Triple C in a Ford or maybe a Chrysler. In fact, I think Big Brother already has a Ford in mind for Triple C, or he wouldn't have brought it up.)

(Then again, my brother encouraged me to ride The Intimidator with him and kept telling me to put both my hands and feet up, so he could have really high-paying insurance policies out on all of us and is waiting to cash in.)

Lo, I was intimidated. And scared. OMG please don't ever make me go on that again!

The thing is, if Christian wanted to object to the Beetle because Hitler (*ptooey*) himself called for it to be designed and built, or because they are really unreliable and tend to have engines that spontaneously combust (in original engines, though most engines are now rebuilt), then I could get behind him. But just to say that it's old and not safe is not good enough. I also think that Ana's dad should have done better by her and taught her how to take care of her classic car. Modern cars need very little by way of fixing. You get oil changes ever 4-5 thousand miles (in some cars, they can go even longer), and then when they get to be a few years old, you trade it in. But Christian objected to Ana herself driving the car. Taylor has driven tanks and motorcycles, so he's okay driving it. But Ana? Oh heavens no! She'll die just by sitting in the passenger side! The entire exchange was devised to  make Ana look weak and Christian look strong. Ana is incapable. Christian and Taylor are capable. End of story.

Okay, onto the chapter.

Chapter Twenty One

We are greeted with Ana trying to make sense of light flooding into her room from floor-to-ceiling windows because the concept of morning is too difficult for her to winkle out. She likens Christian's apartment to a castle in the sky, away from "hunger and crack-whore mothers." Yeah, at the tops she's seeing great sights, but down at the bottom, the turtles have rights* (yeah, I can quote great literature, too). Just because she can't see hunger and crack-whore mothers, that doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm really curious why, if she says she cares about Christian's upbringing and it bothers her so much, that she's not trying to do anything about it. I mean, I get that she has interviews and is starting a new "relationship" (such as it is) and all, but if it really bothers her that this guy she's with was raised that way, shouldn't she be thinking about advocacy or volunteering or getting involved in some way? It makes me think that she only cares about Christian growing up that way, and everyone else can just hang themselves.

Recently, there were a couple of dogs that were lit on fire and just left to die that way. Some were rescued and are doing marginally well considering, and I've read that one died. It sickens me and disgusts me. That my cat was abandoned in a crate outside of a high school upsets me. I love him. But I know that he and the dogs that are found are the lucky ones and that there are so many more out there without a voice or an advocate or Max Mixon coming to save them like the sexy modern-day knight that he is.
I'd go to Houston for him.
Also, Who's a good doggie? You are! You are! Max won't let those mean people hurt you any more. You are a good baby, and you deserve better.
Just because I saved Mr. Chekhov, Rain Bird, and a few others along the way of my life doesn't mean I'm going to stop advocating for animals. Christian is a grown man (physically. Mentally he's about five...) and can take care of himself. What about other people, EL James? You had the perfect opportunity to show how extraoridnarily easy it is to volunteer and advocate, and instead you have your heroine mooning over her boyfriend and his past like it's up to her to save him when he's perfectly capable of saving himself. How about they bond at a soup kitchen? Or forego buying a new, fancy car and instead donate to Habitat for Humanity? How about she and Christian take the food they don't eat and give it to the begger on the side of the road? I often go to this diner and get a sandwich, eat half, and package up the other half because there is usually a person or two at a particular corner asking for food. None of them has ever tried to take more or jump in my car or anything like that. They have always been grateful for the food. It's just that easy. Really.

(Aside: I was just talking to my mom about this area of the book, and she said that sometimes people who are abused will focus on someone else's suffering so that their own suffering won't seem so bad. So, here's a psychological question: if Ana is being abused and is focusing on the past suffering of her abuser, then what does that say about her? And let's keep in mind that she signed on for this abuse, too.)

Okay, back to the book. Ana is wondering what Christian's "more" means. She wants to "talk" about it. This couple doesn't talk. They screw. I'm doubtful they'll ever have a conversation.

Ana runs into the housekeeper, Mrs. Jones, and Ana immediately assumes that she and Christian are having sex together. I mean, why else would the lady be in the house? She starts to wonder if all of Christian's blonde minions are ex-subs, and pretty much everyone else in the world rolls their eyes because come on, girl! Not everyone is gaga over your little Bingley clone! It's getting really old by now.
This picture will never get old.
Ana finds Christian talking on the phone, sounding all important and whatever. We get more condom action and sexytimes on Christian's desk, and can I say that I can't wait for Ana to get on birth control? The condom thing is getting as old as the idea that every woman in the world wants Christian. (Remember: you're a lesbian if you don't think Christian is hot.)

After they're done, Christian says that Ana does something strange to him or whatever, and really? That thing she does is called telling him no. I'm absolutely convinced of this. If he's been in some sort of D/s relationship since the beginning, then he's had no actual relationships in his background. I just want to remind you that I don't think his relationships necessarily follow the D/s pattern, I think he's more into kink, but if he's been in this situation where he started out being ordered around, and then he goes to be the one doing the ordering, and Ana is the first one who tells him "no," then her having a personality is what is doing strange things to him.

People? This is not normal!

Okay, so afterwards, Ana decides that Christian is getting into a weird mood, and I just don't see why. He is actually being sort her. She teases him about having a condom in his pocket, and he says he was hoping for something to happen. So how is this making her glow fade? If a guy said that to me, then I'd feel pretty good. Does Ana want to be persecuted?

Okay, she calls him on his "weird" attitude, and he's as mystified as I am. He says he enjoyed their tryst. See? Geez, Ana. Take a pill.

And now she's overanalyzing again. Ladies? Men like sex. It's not that difficult to understand. I love how Jeff Foxworthy says that men are generally thinking, "I'd like a beer, and I'd like to see something nekkid." Every guy I know has said that Cosmo's little "How to drive him wild in bed" advice is a waste of money because all you have to do is show up. Preferably naked. Don't overthink this. In this book, though? It's like the author is begging us to think that more is there. Ana is just musing over how complicated Christian is  without any proof. My brother and I were both abused growing up, so I think we're both a little more complicated than usual, but at the end of the day, my brother is still a pretty uncomplicated guy. He likes compliments when he does something right, he likes his wife to love him, and he likes his little girls near by. Christian is not going to automatically be complicated because the author says so. See above: Ana tells him no. It's that uncomplicated.

I know it's an oversimplification and a generalization, but it's the best I can do here.

Okay, at breakfast, Christian asks if Ana has bought her ticket yet. The ticket that she'll need tonight? To go to Georgia? I checked Princeline today, and to go from Seattle to Atlanta and it will cost anywhere from $771-1395. For coach. If she leaves two weeks from today, the price goes down by over $300. Who is this author? What the heck is her problem? It is not that hard to research this stuff! Maybe it's because I'm pretty well traveled and have family here in the South (I'm currently writing this from a hotel room in Charlotte), but I would imagine that even anyone who has never left their hometown would know that one does not simply walk into Mordor the airport and buy a ticket for that day unless one has unlimited funds and an emergency that sends you away. Have we never heard of planning?

You know, I'm starting to think that Christian has a point about how Ana can't take care of herself.

Ana once again brings up why Christian doesn't like being touched. I just have to say: if you know someone that has been abused, even if they are in therapy, don't press them for information. Just try to respect their boundaries. As they become more comfortable with you, they will open up more. Christian is evasive and Ana finally gives up. This would be great if she would just back off, but note from the future: she won't. I really hate that this author makes me feel badly for Christian in this area. I mean, seriously, Ana, back the truck up.

Finally, Christian asks Ana if she'll miss him, and she says yes. This makes him happy. See? Not complicated or difficult.

At the second publishing company, Ana is musing over her first interview and getting ready for her second interview, and sitting on a green Chesterfield. Okay, is the author nodding to the Barenaked Ladies, or is she trying to make herself look savvy about furniture?

If I had a million dollars...I'd be rich.
We are introduced to our third POC in the form of an African-American receptionist. Ana thinks she'd like to be friends with this lady, but come on. We know that's not going to happen. Of course, she can't go for more than thirty seconds without thinking about Christian, so Ana immediately puts her new potential bestie out of her mind so she can think of the unexpected ways Christian can be sweet and kind when he's not being overbearing and controlling. For most abuse victims, it's the kindness of their abuser that keeps them going. Just saying.

Ana meets Jack Hyde who only likes American classic novels published after 1950, so we already know he's a no-good scoundrel. That's pretty much all you need to know about him. Oh, and he has red hair and "fathomless" blue eyes. She feels settled when she leaves and Jack Hyde manages to rattle her by shaking her hand. Now that she's Christian's, she can't have other men shake her hand any more.
He likes the Young American Novels. (See what I did there?)

Back at Ana and Kate's apartment, we find out that only Kate can look good in jeans, a T-shirt and a bandana. I don't know, I think I look pretty cute like that. Kate asks if Ana is running to Georgia to escape Christian, and Ana lies and says no. And then Kate shifts almost immediately and says that it's obvious they've fallen for each other, and one needs to make the first move. I now have Reader's Whiplash at this change.

Kate goes out for take-out, and Ana e-maikls Christian. He tells her she's the most fascinating woman he knows, and I instantly feel sorry for him. I mean, we've seen his mom for all of five pages and she's managed to be more interesting than Ana in that short space of time. And at least Kate has some kind of past. Mrs. Jones the housekeeper has only been in about three paragraphs and already I want to pick her brain about what it's like to be Christian's housekeeper. I'm sure she could tell some stories. Ana, though? Vanilla ice cream on white bread with margarine. She's not even real butter.

Ana finally asks Christian about whether Mrs. Jones was a sub at one point, and her character immediately rockets up in my estimation when Christian says no. There are more exchanges, and Christian says that Ana is only honest, but yet possibly ironic, in her e-mails because blah blah blah. God these two are so freakin' boring! I mean, back the day when I was a romance novel junkie, at least I could have the sex scenes when the characters were boring, but I don't even get that in this book!

At the airport (finally!) we find out that Ana's been upgraded to first class because of course Christian did that. Personally, I wouldn't care, but I'm laying down bets that Ana will. I'm writing this on Monday the 9th, and I'm flying out Tuesday the 10th, and I'm going to dream tonight about being updated to first class.

End of chapter. I'm going to pick this up probably in a few days, so we'll see if I get my dream.

*If you don't think Dr. Seusse is a great literary author, then you have your own issues.


  1. I have been greatly enjoying your synopsis so far. I think this might be the only way I could tolerate learning the plot (if you could even call it that): with a healthy side of snark and well-reasoned criticism.
    Would you by chance ever consider writing a full plot summary for the wikipedia article?
    You write very well and while it's an encyclopedia so you can't be sarcastic or incorporate commentary, it would probably save a lot of people the headache and waste of time actually reading this book.

    1. Thanks for the compliments! I like Wikipedia as a go-to place for information, but I've never thought about editing on it. I wish there was a snark-o-pedia or something (yeah, I know there's Encyclopaedia Dramatica, but...) that a really snarky review would be good for.

      Sorry about the whole plot thing. I know I should be talking more about it.




      Oooh...the plot is a lie! Haha! I kill me.

    2. Perhaps what is needed is Snark-o-pedia

  2. hey -

    I was releaved to read this. I had much of the same reaction - at first, amused disgust, then indignation, then horror and fustration. I only got through the first book. I am going to believe that it ends with her wising up and leaving him.

    1. I would love it if my blog became a refuge for normal people who like equitable relationships and find this book to be horrid. That would sort of rock.

    2. I was saying to DH there should be a club for those women who find the book abhorent because it's hard to meet each other irl.

  3. I love your reviews. When the books first came out, I thought I was the only woman who finds the author's handling of domestic abuse (sorry, I have to call it exactly that) and her misuse of bdsm alarming. Thank God, I'm not the only one.
    And to the whole VW Beetle thing: It's absolutely obvious that the author doesn't know anything about German cars. I'm German and my parents would never let me drive their audi a4, because its engine has way too much power for an inexperienced driver, whereas a good old classic vw is way easier to handle.
    Sorry for my long comment, but I just had to put my two cents into this.

    1. I think if the author wants to play with cars, that's her business, but to make up some stupid excuse about "safety" followed by Christian saying that German cars are "safer", then she needs to do more research.

  4. Love these reviews. They illustrate what I've been saying about your typical "romance" novel all along--the woman is an idiot/ditz, and the man is a controlling jerk with with mommy issues and no respect for anyone(let alone her). My mind boggles at the idea that anyone would want to be involved with such a man.

    P.S. I don't see what the big deal about her being a virgin at 21 is--I'm 20 going on 21, I'm a virgin, and I know several people who are 20+ year old virgins. It doesn't seem to be all that uncommon, and it certainly isn't a bad thing.