Saturday, January 18, 2014

Petals on the Wind, Part Eight: Everything's Coming Up Carrie

Carrie is the buttmonkey of this series.

Fairly recently a commenter said that the character of Carrie made her uncomfortable simply because whenever Carrie appears on the page, it's because she's about to be victimized.  I agreed completely with the reader's opinion, but I also grimaced because I had just finished drafting the post for this section, I knew what was coming, and I really don't like making people uncomfortable (I'm a Southerner; it's engrained).

I feel sorry for Carrie as a character, though probably not for the reasons Andrews intended.  She's such an underutilized character when she could have been so much more.  Cathy claims to love her like a child, but Carrie's feelings and well-being are constantly neglected and forgotten.  She could have been a grounding force for Cathy, or her opposition, or anything.  Instead it seems the plot forgets all about her unless it's about to do something terrible to her.

Anyway, you are very, very correct to be suspicious of the book's sudden interest in Carrie right now.

I hope you brought your flashlights, gentle readers, because the book's about to get dark.

After Julian's death, "I was no longer a sweet, innocent virgin," boasts Cathy. "Two men had taught me well.  I would have the knowledge to hold my own when it came time to steal my mother's husband away from her."  Let's hope all that intel works out for you, Cathy!  It'd be a shame if your mother's husband sidesteps your attempted seduction by raping you! 

The whole family falls in love with Jory, who is an exceptionally pretty, sweet, easy-going baby who hardly ever fusses or cries or demands and who should probably be tested for Renesmee Cullen Syndrome.   Chris wants badly to be Cathy's fake babydaddy and begs her to come with him during a short residency at the Mayo Clinic.  There's another one of those talks Cathy and Chris constantly have, where Chris is all "you are the only woman I will ever love" and Cathy is quite reasonably like "please, I just want a man I can sleep with and not feel ashamed and SISTER, I AM YOUR SISTER" and we've heard it all ten times now but we need to establish it for future events.

Christmas comes around again--if I had a drinking game for this novel, we'd all have to chug one for Christmas--but this year all the focus is on Jory's first Christmas.  Carrie, enchanted with Baby Jory, sings him to sleep, while Chris and Cathy watch from the doorway.  Chris whispers that Carrie looks so much like Cathy, except smaller.
One little word, "except."  One little word that kept Carrie from ever feeling really happy.
THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULD STOP MENTIONING IT ALL THE TIME.  Especially since she's internalized it in such charming and healthy ways as this:
"You are like a rose, Cathy.  All the bees come to you, and they don't even see me down so low.  Please don't get married again before I have my chance.  Please don't be around if ever some man looks my way...Don't you smile at him, please."
  • Oh Carrie, honey.  If a guy starts hitting on you, and then suddenly dumps you the moment your sister walks into the room, that's not a guy you want.
  • This book has reached the point that Carrie and Cathy must now negotiate terms about who gets to be married next.  Because all women, everywhere, are in direct competition for the attention of all men, everywhere, at all times.

  • Do we all realize this is basically the book's way of telling us how awesome Cathy is?  That she is so hot she might inadvertently destroy her sister's chances for marriage simply by being in the same general area?  I just want to make sure we're all on the same page here: this book thinks Cathy's hot. 
Cathy's in debt.  It's probably the most realistic this book has been.  She's a new widow with a small child, and she can't return to the stage professionally due to injury (the book glosses over the whole broken-feet thing, but the trick knee's still an issue).  She teaches at Madame Lumpy-Legs Marisha's school, but the two clash at every turn.  She also has Julian's hospital bills to contend with, plus the numerous debts he ran up in New York City, and, like her mother before her, Cathy's been struggling to stay on top via credit cards.  On top of everything, Julian's life insurance company claims that the suicide clause in his policy was still in effect when he died* and they refuse to pay out. 

Broke and desperate, Cathy finally listens to what I kept screaming during the first book and goes out to get a lawyer.
I looked up a phone number in the Greenglenna telephone book, and in no time at all I had an appointment to see Bartholomew Wilson, Attorney At Law.

Can we talk about all these professionals who specialize in nothing?  What the hell degree does Chris have?  What did Paul actually do in his practice?  Why is millionaire playboy lawyer Bart Winslow taking a minor insurance case for an unemployed single mother?  This is like me saying "I am a professor."  They don't just let you go into any random classroom and teach**!

Anyway, Cathy ditches Jory--who is now somehow three years old--with Henny and Carrie while she makes her appointment to meet Bart Winslow, Hottie At Law.

Bart recognizes Cathy on sight.  It turns out that as soon as Cathy became a ballet star, Mommie Dearest became a ballet buff, dragging her husband to any performance starring Catherine Dahl and Julian Marquet.  Cathy, unsurprisingly, feels two ways about this: this is exactly the acknowledgement she wanted, her stated reason to become a star dancer, but she's dismayed to confront a part of herself that wants her mother to be proud of her.   

Cathy deals these feelings by being a bold-faced bitch to Bart: "I bet your wife leads you around like a pet poodle on a jeweled leash, Mr. Winslow. That's the way rich women are. They don't know the least thing about working for a living, and I wonder if you do."  Bart tells her to GTFO and find a new attorney if that's her attitude (go Bart!) but then, in the next sentence, tells her he'll take her case.

In just under a week, he shows up at the dance school with a check for $100,000, or about three-quarters of a million dollars in 2013 money***.  When she asks about Bart's fees, he says they'll discuss it over dinner.  I have it under advisement that this behavior is unethical.

When Bart leaves, Madame M asks Cathy who the stranger was.  Cathy explains, but somehow it ends in a fight between the two women about Jory's future. Marisha wants Jory to become a dancer and attain the fame that should have been Julian's; Cathy threatens to take Jory away.  Marisha has a grand moment of calling Cathy out:
"You got something eating at you, Catherine!  Something gnawing at your guts.  Something so bitter it simmers in your eyes and grits your teeth together!  I know your kind.  You ruin everyone who touches your life and God help the next man who loves you as much as my son did!"
The italics are Andrews, by the way.  Either Madame was seriously emphasizing every word or she lapse briefly into her native tongue.

Otherwise, barring that her son was an abusive rapist, all of the above is pretty much correct.  The "something" Marisha seems unable to name is a big old steaming pile of daddy issues, but give Madame credit for being able to read Cathy like a large-print library book.

Cathy goes out for Chinese with Bart, where she spends the entire dinner calling his wife a fat lazy stupid hog and calling Bart a poodle.  Bart reacts about as well as you'd expect. He tells her he's about to move back to Virginia to be closer to Foxworth Hall and storms out, having still not told Cathy what his fee will be.  If I were Bart, I'd claim 50% of her settlement for this bullshit treatment.

Instead, Cathy makes plans to follow Bart back to Virginia.  She's taking Carrie and Jory with her.  Carrie doesn't want to go, but who listens to Carrie, right?  She does perk up a bit once she and Cathy are established in their pretty little cottage in Virginia, where Carrie becomes a full-time babysitter and Cathy buys a tiny little dance studio.  Even then, the three-quarters of a million dollars in modern money is running out (come on, Cathy, was Julian buying out Tiffany's every other weekend?).  Cathy, of course, is counting on millions once she ruins her mother's life.

And then we get to Carrie.  Poor, poor, stunted housebound Carrie.

Carrie did eventually graduate from high school, where she'd been taking secretarial classes.  She didn't want to continue on to college; instead, she stayed home doing Paul's typing.  The book gives her credit for being a really good secretary, but Cathy reminds us that what Carrie's really dreaming of is of someone to love her "in spite of her small size."  Carrie is seventeen.  Not once since this book began has she displayed any personal preferences, talents, ambitions, or need for independence.  Even Cory showed some hope of becoming a musical protege back before the book snuffed him, and of course Cathy and Chris have succeeded in achieving the ambitions they set for themselves back in grade school.  In grade school I wanted to be one of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.  That didn't work out--but at least I had an ambition, dammit!

Anyway, do you remember how I told you only one guy in this book isn't a rapist?  Carrie's dating the non-rapist.  Not only is he not a rapist, he may actually be castrated: he's the soft-eyed, puppy-like, bland, tepid, sexless, safe guy, unblemished by personality, who will show up again in the guise of such love interests as Logan Stonewall and Arden Lowe.  This year's model is named Alex, a part-time electrician and religious studies student, and he's all about Carrie, even though he doesn't actually speak.  Even when he shows up for dinner, he doesn't speak.  Carrie reports that even when they're alone, he doesn't speak.

One interesting point about this: when Cathy finally learns about Alex, she also learns that Carrie has been dating him secretly for months whenever Cathy is occupied with her ballet class.  The book doesn't spell it out, but the implication seems to be that she doesn't want to give Cathy a chance to wreck this for her.  Oh, Carrie.  You and Madame M. are the only characters who seem willing to call Cathy out on her shit.

Carrie develops a huge crush on Alex, enough to support having a whole chapter dedicated to it.  Alex is going to college while supporting himself as an electrician, and Carrie dreams of marrying him after school and becoming the perfect housewife.  She'll spend every day making him gourmet meals and sewing their clothes and tending their six-to-a-dozen children, whose names no doubt she has already selected.  For the first time, Carrie seems genuinely happy: she no longer walks, but dances.

This lasts, as you would expect, all of three pages.

Cathy comees home to find Carrie sitting alone in a dark house.  Alex has just asked to marry Carrie, but she has just learned that Alex wants to become a minister.  In Carrie's mind, religious servants expect nothing but perfection.  Alex won't want her if he finds out she's "the Devil's Spawn" and a product of incest.  Plus, Carrie insists, she's done other bad things.


Remember how in the last section I kept pointing out all the references to how Carrie was the only member of Cathy's family that Julian liked?  And how, at around the same time, I was also pointing out the number of times Cathy mentioned that Julian was into young girls?  Like, really young girls?

Yeah.  This is going about where you'd expect.

Carrie admits, guiltily, that when she was staying with Cathy in New York, Julian molested her.

This is the one moment where the book genuinely horrified me.  I found myself dreading recapping this section because I reached a point where I couldn't make this funny.  There is no way to get around the idea that Cathy left her vulnerable younger sister alone with a man she knew was a child molester.

Catherine Dollanganger, you are the worst.

Cathy's response to all of this is "Alex never needs to know" which is a brilliant relationship strategy that has the added bonus of confirming that this really is something so shameful that Carrie needs to hide it.  Remember, kids: concealing painful truths is a normal part of any relationship!  No one likes a grumpy-puss!  Share nothing!  Paste on a false smile and keep baking those apple pies!

A few days later, Carrie starts to lose her appetite.  And her hair.  And her red cell count.

Carrie ends up in the hospital.  Paul and Chris rush to be with her (and incidentally seem to take over her case).  There is a brief moment where For-Real Medical Doctor Chris struts into the hospital, causing all the candystripers to drop trays and spill bedpans at the sight of him "in all his splendid glory" which, for a moment, made me wonder if Chris had actually shown up nude.  I wouldn't put it past this book.

Cathy stops Chris in the hall and hands him Carrie's diary, where she has left a note begging them to let her die because she can't bear her sad, short, big-honkin'-lollyhead life any longer.  Cathy also shows him a packet of powdered-sugar doughnuts and a bottle of arsenic she found hidden in Carrie's room.  There's only one doughnut left--a doughnut with a single bitemark.

Bullet points, ho!
  • Really?  One bite mark?  Whatever, you know she took that one bite and put the doughnut back into the package because she knew Cathy would find it later.  
  • When did Cathy find them? The book gives zero indication that Cathy has left Carrie's side since bringing her to the hospital, which leaves the impression that Cathy found the note and doughnuts before taking Carrie to the hospital and that she simply didn't tell anyone until Paul showed up--which, in turn, would mean that Cathy let the doctors struggle for days to figure out what was happening when she knew the truth all along.  Even I don't think Cathy's that evil.  Or that stupid.  So I'm going to chalk this up to vague writing rather than to Cathy being a complete psychopath.
  • Cathy says that Paul had the remaining doughnut tested for arsenic.  So why is Cathy now walking around with a poisoned doughnut and a jar of D-Con in her purse?  Those should probably still be in the lab, right?
  • Why is Paul having anything tested?  Isn't that a conflict of interests?  Did he take over from her admitting doctor? 
  • I do not think either arsenic or forensics work this way.  
 Alex shows up long enough to say that his life is ruined forever.  We will never see him again.

For three days the family gathers around Carrie's bed.  Carrie's beautiful hair is falling out; Cathy insists on saving every strand.  I mention this because it will come up later, and because PRIORITIES, CATHY, PRIORITIES.

Finally, in the dead of night, Carrie emerges from her coma long enough to whisper to Cathy: a few weeks earlier, Carrie spotted Mommie Dearest on the street.  Carrie ran up to her and took her hand, and Mommie Dearest glared and told her she didn't know her.  Thank you, book, for finding a way to directly pin this on Mommie Dearest rather than have any moment of reflection. 

Cathy begs Carrie to hold on for her, for Jory, for Chris, but Carrie is done with living in a world where she is only known for being short and sad.

Carrie's last words are a broken speech about how she can feel herself growing taller, taller, until at last she's as tall as Momma, as tall as she always wanted to be because even her sister, who presumably loved her like a daughter, still took every opportunity to remind us that Carrie was a shrunken shriveled deformed little Shortie McShortpants.

At the funeral, Cathy sits and dwells on revenge.  In Carrie's honor, she broods in only the purplest of prose:
My thoughts were like the dry leaves blowing in the strong wind of hate as I sat on and on.  I made those dry leaves, after I had gathered them together and twisted them, into a cruel witch's stick, a thing to stir up a neglected brew of revenge!
As the family starts for home, Cathy spots at the edge of the graveyard the figure of a woman in black.

The woman hides before Cathy can identify her, but though she says nothing, she's convinced it was her mother.
She was the perfect one to wear black, and should run and hide!  Forever hide!

Color all her days black!  Every last one!

I'd see to it that all her remaining days on earth were black.  Blacker than the tar put on my hair.  Blacker than...the darkest shadows in the attic...Blacker than the deepest pit in hell.
Coming up: the establishment of the book's final rapist!  The Return of the Grandmother!  And Cathy finally has to hire a damn babysitter.  Will revenge happen at last?  WHO KNOWS.

* SAY, DID I MENTION I SPENT A YEAR SELLING LIFE INSURANCE ONCE?  Suicide clauses are real things and, as of 2010, they work pretty much the way Cathy says they do: you can take out an insurance policy, wait two years, kill yourself, and there's pretty much nothing your insurance company can do to contest it.  You can literally write a suicide note that says "ha-ha, I only took out this policy so that I could kill myself and leave my beneficiary a fortune, adios, sucker!", address it to your insurance agency, and as long as you waited out the suicide clause, they still have to shell out.  I'm not advocating this, mind.  I'm just saying that's how it works.

**Except for that one guy I had last semester.  I still don't know what the hell he was on about. We ended up having a talk with the department chair. I don't think he's getting tenure. Whatever, he was an aberration.  

***Not a typo.  The money conversion thing I used hasn't been updated for 2014.


  1. Oh, man. I'm actually legit sad about Carrie. Sounded like she was getting somewhere in life and that doesn't seem a thing that happens overmuch to non-Cathy people.

    Also, I can't be the only one thinking about the Rolling Stones with Cathy's damning of her mother. "Her days are gonna PAINT IT PAINT IT PAINT IT--PAINT IT BLACK!"

  2. Oh my God. I cannot wait for the next installments. These recaps are the life. And hahaha about using Bubbles to represent Carrie.

  3. "Cathy claims to love her like a child, but Carrie's feelings and well-being are constantly neglected and forgotten."

    I dunno, I feel like if the writing were any good you could make an argument that this is the model for how children are treated in Andrewsland and Cathy hasn't had a chance to learn anything else. But I'm hesitant to give Andrews the benefit of the doubt...

    1. The trouble is that Andrews is big on show-don't-tell. We hear Cathy say she loves Carrie all the time, but we almost never see her do anything that will bear that out. I'm remembering the time earlier in the book where Cathy insisted on going to Foxworth Hall with the family, even though Carrie immediately started to cry at the very thought and spent the trip nonverbal and traumatized in the back seat of the car with Chris. But then, that's kind of how Cathy treats everyone.

  4. Also: this adds a troubling element to Carrie's certainty that Cathy being around would ruin Alex. Since she feels guilt and shame and responsibility for her molestation, she probably feels like she betrayed Cathy (lol), so she wouldn't feel like she can trust sisters not to steal men from each other. Especially since-- does she know about Cathy's plan to get revenge on her mother (for years of abuse and neglect) by... breaking up her marriage?-- I'd say that would shake my faith that my super-hot, self-centered, and vindictive sister isn't going to take whatever guy she wants from me. That's how women act in Andrewsland. Sex is revenge. Hell, Cathy married Julian to get back at Paul for... oh, right, BELONGING TO SOMEONE ELSE. There's two or three layers of sexual manipulation in that story.

    Sidenote: "Logan Stonewall" is not a sexually nonthreatening name, Andrews check yourself.

    1. I didn't even think of that interpretation. Good call. Oh my God, Carrie, come here and let me hold you, baby.

      But you're right, and I think it comes back to character-centered morality. Cathy condemns other people for doing the same things she does, but not only is it okay for Cathy to do it, but the book frequently bears out that interpretation by having her be correct all the time. Cathy takes one look at someone and decides she's a vindictive slut? The narrative will later prove that she's absolutely right! Cathy shakes down a fourth-grader for nothing more than a suspicious expression? That fourth-grader bullied her sister!

      (On my old blog someone pointed out that "Arden Lowe" sounded like "Hard and Low," as in "Describe how your dick's slung.")

  5. Carrie seemed to know dead on that her sister was a giant slut. Hence the whole I want to get married next as in "please don't let your V fall on my future husband's D by accident because you are an awful human being"

    1. Which is eerily like Chris telling Cathy to try not to fuck anyone on the flight up to New York. They're her siblings, man. THEY KNOW.

  6. Me again. As for alex, maybe he lives by the adage of if you can't say anything nice... also, when I was younger I always got the feeling dr. Paul was having his way with carrie too. Completely unfounded since it's never mentioned. However in andrewsland cathy is the only one banging AAAAND Dr. Paul seems to love the rapies and young ladies.... so is that weird of me to think that?

    1. One of the things I left out of the last recap (because it was already hella long) was a scene where Carrie, then about twelve or thirteen, dressed Cathy down for not marrying Paul, telling her, "If you won't marry him, I will! Because I won't be able to get another man and he'll feel sorry for me! And we'll have a big wedding and lots of babies and YOU SUCK, CATHY!" But I never felt that Paul reciprocated the feelings on any level, and Carrie kind of couched the speech with "if you married Paul, then you'd really be my mother," so it seemed pretty childlike and harmless except for the whole "one day he'll take pity and marry me" slant.

      I don't even know that Paul is really into young women! Before Cathy, he was apparently dating a thirty-year-old--younger than him, certainly, but not inappropriately so--and he and Poor Dead Julia were roughly the same age. I don't know if it's so much he's attracted to young women in the creepy Julian sense as it's just that men are supposed to be irresistibly drawn to Cathy and no man can resist her.

  7. I also meant to add after cathy,is the only one banging "and she never bothers to mention others' sexyfuntimes, or believes carrie has a functioning vajajay"

  8. Sorry vy young girls I meant underage cathy. And I forgot Carrie was deformed with big honking lolly head syndrome... so yeah completely unattractive to anyone except virginal alex who doesn't know better lol

    1. How dare he not be attracted to cathy! Carrie must die as punishment to him! ( I swear im not always this tipsy)

    2. I seriously believe that if Alex had been in any way desirable, if he had been written in any other way than the way he was, Andrews would not have been able to resist the urge to have Cathy go after him.

    3. Now I'm left wondering how ugly he was... or if cathy actually has boundaries when it comes to not banging her sister' or if andrews herself has boundries of way too many love(?) Scenes. Of course maybe judging by julians clown lips and burt reynolds (i mean barts) mustache and pauls old age(of what mid 30s) and chris being her brother; maybe cathy is unable to find attraction in normal looking and acting guys. But that still doesn't ezplain why she finds Carrie so dang unappealing. So my theory falls flat again....

    4. Daddy issues, baby. It's all about the daddy issues.

  9. Hey, just tripped over your blog in search of the nebulous "Flowers in the Attic" fandom, as I just reread the first two novels and am kind of obsessed with them in a runaway train type way. They're AWFUL, but I can't stop!

    It doesn't really fit with this post, but you've mentioned in many other posts how skeevy Chris is through most of this book, and it really bugs me. Huge parts of Cathy's feelings for him are based on his roles comforting and "protecting" her in the attic. She refers to him as "steadfast" and "her gallant knight." Things obviously got sexual, but aside from the rape itself, most of their relationship came across very puppy-lovish in the first book. Lots of hugging and holding and grabbing each other's hands and kissing each other on the cheek. Things mainly got more intense whenever circumstances put them very close together with very little clothing (the whippings, him accidentally stabbing her with scissors...) And yeah, the freaking rape. But then almost literally overnight (from their first night at Dr. Paul's) he can't get within two feet of her without trying to get her freaking clothes off! Bugs the crap out of me, especially since she still views him as comforting and protecting despite the fact that she can't even hug him anymore without him getting a hard-on.

    I also agree that it's too bad they never developed Carrie very much beyond being small and sad and babyish, loving Dr. Paul like a father and being jealous of her super-hawt sister. And then she becomes mainly another reason for Cathy to seek vengeance, as opposed to taking stock of her own life and what she wants for it.

    1. Chris says a few times in this book how much he wishes things were "the way they used to be," when it was just him and Cathy and the starvation and the arsenic and the mental and physical abuse. The idea that he would think longingly of the attic, just so that he could have no other competition, is what really galls me. Then, too, the one time he DID have even the barest whiff of competition--when Cathy smooched Bart--was the thing that drove him to rape her. Chris just can't deal with the fact that there are now other men in the world and that Cathy might want to sleep with a few of them. So he steps up his skeeve-game.

  10. "Color all her days black!"
    Oh Christ we're back to this again! Can I get a chart where we see what color the days are, please, Cathy? *eyeroll*

    I love that "witch's stick" line, seriously. It is so far beyond any sensemaking that it folds back into brilliant, like that thing in your last (big) post about "Like seemed to me nothing..." but with purple prose instead of syntax.

    Also, For-Real Medical Doctor Chris's "splendid glory" made me imagine all the candy stripers being immolated like Semele in the Birth of Dionysus story (or the barful of dudes who see an unhosted angel in that one episode of Supernatural, take your pick).

    So, I haven't read the book, and I must ask: are there any other witnesses to Carrie's mention of Mommie Dearest rejecting her on the street, or did she "say" this only to Cathy? Because it's a lovely conscience salve that neatly diverts from the obvious reason for her to have committed suicide, and at this point, *fuck* trusting Cathy to be a reliable narrator.

    It strikes me that Cathy's dismay at Carrie's molestation is centered on the fact that Carrie, despite physically remaining Cathy's little blond babydoll prop to trot out whenever she wanted to play mother, nevertheless matured enough to present as a sexual object to Cathy's husband--not unlike Cathy's relationship with Mommie Dearest in (literal and figurative) miniature. Couple that with Cathy's emphasis on how it sullies *Carrie* and makes *her* unworthy of a religious guy, and it seems Cathy has decided to combine all the horrors of the generations of Dollanganger women into a single Megazord of horribleness. The only thing left would be to accuse Carrie of, I don't know, trying to seduce Chris or, God help us all, Jory when he came of age. I guess it's just good that Cathy isn't going around poisoning people with powdered sugar do--

    Well, at least Carrie took care of that *for* her, right? Girl knows her role.

    1. Cathy's alone with Carrie when she says it, so we can stick that in the "unreliable narrator" evidence box. But then, Cathy ran into her mom at least once by pure happenstance when she (Cathy) was living the next state over. In the next section she will continue to run into both Bart and Mommie Dearest in various spots all over town, so...maybe Carrie had the same mommy-magnet?

      More seriously, though: Carrie's deathbed confession felt very forced in the text. I believe that Andrews was a very unconscious writer, for good or ill, and that she was more concerned with evocative, nightmarish images than with, y'know, sense-making. When forced to plot for the sake of story progression, she usually ends up with something clunky and obvious. I believe that Andrews may have thought she *had* to directly implicate Mommie Dearest as the cause of Carrie's suicide, perhaps in order to sustain that particular theme of the book in the same way that Cathy irrationally blames all her poor decisions on what her mother did to her. In the next recap I'll end up talking a tiny bit more about how Carrie's death felt very awkwardly placed.

      To Cathy's credit, she does tell Carrie that what Julian did was Julian's fault, not Carrie's, and that she should have warned Carrie about Julian (as opposed to keeping Julian away from Carrie or even, I don't know, leaving him when she realized that her husband was a pedophile; Carrie would have been no older than fourteen when this happened and may have actually been closer to twelve). But she follows this up with "Alex doesn't have to know," which, again, reinforces the idea of shame and secrecy.

      But I absolutely believe you're right about the relationship between Cathy and Carrie. Carrie as a happy, mature, sexual creature would not serve the proper function in Cathy's life, since this book has made it abundantly clear that the only role other sexually mature women can play is competition for Cathy. Carrie would have to be recast as an antagonist, and, since the book has spent this much effort in stressing how weak and helpless (and short!) Carrie is, Cathy would have started looking like a bully. Can't have that, can we?

  11. Hello,

    I found this blog a couple of days ago...I relish it!!!

    You brilliantly explain everything I failed to understand and/or articulate when I read this series as a child.

    Thank You,


  12. I got banned from these books on the daily, when I was in middle school. For some stupid reason, I always pictured Alex as Peter MacNicol (AKA Stingo from Sophie's Choice)

  13. Chris in all his splendid glory! That is all I want to say.

  14. To be honest, when I read that Neidermeirer (sp) was writing the first VC book to be male-centric--in other words, Chris' Diary, I shook my head. Honestly, I would much rather see this whole travesty written from Carrie's POV. She had to know what kind of crap was going down and I think it would have given Carrie something more. I cannot imagine (even though it is fiction) the feeling of losing your twin and in such a horrific manner. That would make a better book than Chris' lamenting about his "hot sister" and "how hot she looks in her flannel nighty, with her developing apples poking thru the thin material..." *ahem* sorry about that last part. Keep up this good stuff, please.