At the end of the last chapter, Ana made an impulsive decision to bid the exact amount of money she and Christian are fighting over whether or not he owes her and he looks super pissed. So this chapter’s probably 80% sex scenes.
So the chapter opens up with this gem:
Crap, he’s going to be so angry, and we’ve been getting on so well.
You got into a loud public dispute on a main street two chapters ago, what the hell are you talking about, Ana? Maybe your subconscious will make more sense.
My subconscious has finally decided to make an appearance, and she’s wearing her Edvard Munch Scream face.
Nope. That was a dumb idea. Also, I feel the need to point out that there is a pretty big difference between making a reference like this to be funny and to be lazy. I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be funny, and the reader is supposed to go:
“Haha, that’s that famous painting of a person screaming on a bridge! Her subconscious is making that exact same face!”
But this isn’t a humorous reference. This is lazy narration. The fact that Ana’s subconscious’s face (which is already a stupid enough concept by itself) looks like a famous painting is used to convey information in the stead of actually conveying any information. Instead of describing something to us, the novel points at one thing and then points at another thing outside of the text and says “it’s like that”.
Once again, let’s pretend other things were written like this. Like, say, Led Zeppelin lyrics.
Starting off obvious, here’s “Stairway to Heaven” rewritten in this way:
There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit looks just like Picasso’s Weeping Woman and wants leaving
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of people like that couple in American Gothic are looking
And here’s “Kashmir”:
Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, like Aladdin and Abu
I am a traveler of both time and space, just like in Doctor Who
Now, admittedly, Led Zeppelin does kinda do this with The Lord of the Rings a few times, such as in “Ramble On”:
Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear.
How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her
Except the reason why Led Zeppelin’s Lord of the Ring‘s reference works as opposed to what’s in Fifty Shades Darker (aside: I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence) is because they’re not using the reference to tell the story, but to elaborate on it. The story in “Ramble On” is that A is B, and the reference is used to elaborate on B. We already know the basics of the story without the reference; that the speaker met a girl but lost her. The reference is used to flesh this out, to suggest foreboding circumstances via the outside understanding of Mordor, and the sinister nature of the loss through the understanding of the deceptive character Gollum. Yet if you’ve never read The Lord of the Rings and those words mean nothing to you, you still understand that the speaker met a girl and lost her and it was sad. The story in Fifty Shades, on the other hand, is that A is B, and the reference is used to explicitly say “is”. If you don’t know what the painting is, you have no idea what Ana’s subconscious looks like, and, thus, how Ana feels right now, and the meaning is completely lost. True, the painting is called “Scream” so you could probably figure it out, but that’s not an excuse for shitty writing, because if you don’t know what this painting looks like, this sentence could mean literally anything.
Anyway, I’ve actually written seven hundred words about this chapter and I’m not even on the third paragraph, so, um, let’s move on. Christian is creepy.
“I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.”
One dreamy motherfucker, right here. This man deserves a handjob!
His free hand clasps mine, bringing it to his lips, then letting it rest on his lap. Slowly and surreptitiously, so I don’t realize his game until it’s too late,he eases my hand up his leg and against his erection. […] Taking full advantage, I slowly caress him
But then there’s a dance auction, so thankfully this scene doesn’t really continue past us learning that Christian’s penis enlarges when stimulated (who knew!), although arguably this next bit is worse. The concept of auctioning off consenting women to have a dance with the highest bidder isn’t terrible, but definitely a little weird in any modern context that isn’t the musical Oklahoma!. However, the MC really doesn’t try to make us not feel thoroughly uncomfortable with the proceedings.
“Now, gentlemen, pray gather round, and take a good look at what could be yours for the first dance. Twelve comely and compliant wenches.”
And then this:
“Gentlemen, may I present the wonderful Mariah. […] She’s an experienced matador, plays the cello to concert standard, and she’s a champion pole-vaulter . . . how about that, gentlemen?”
Really? A pole vaulting joke? “Compliant”? “Wenches”? He may as well have gone up there and said “them’s my hoes”.
While waiting their turn, Mia tells Ana about how when he was younger, Christian used to be violent and get into fights, and Ana just can’t see this side of her sadomasochist boyfriend that she broke up with once because he spanked her repeatedly. Then it’s Ana’s turn to be introduced:
“Beautiful Ana plays six musical instruments, speaks fluent Mandarin, and is keen on yoga…”
Really? I’ve read over 600 pages of this crap and when has she ever done a single one of these things? Christian bids for Ana, but another man is also bidding for her! But it seems to be a man that Christian knows and is on good terms with, so it’s mostly just amusing? Except then later in the chapter we learn that this man is actually Dr Flynn, Christian’s therapist, and, well, intentionally fucking with your patients in public seems like a weird thing for a therapist to do?
Then Christian takes Ana away from the ball for a moment and shows her his childhood room and there’s a sex scene.
“Put your hands behind your back,” he murmurs.
Oh! He removes his bow tie and uses it to quickly bind my wrists so that my hands are tied behind me, resting in the small of my back.
Well, that’s kinda cute for bondage. Maybe this won’t be so-
“Two,” he murmurs. “We’ll go with twelve [spanks].”
He caresses my behind again and trails his fingers down toward my sex and slowly sinks two fingers inside me, moving them in a circle, round and round and round, torturing me.
I moan loudly as my body takes over, and I come and come, convulsing around his fingers.
How fucking long was he fingering her for?
We finally go back to the ball and Ana has a dance with Christian’s therapist. We don’t learn anything new about Christian, but we do get a joke that I genuinely chuckled at.
“I’m really a very dull person.”
“That’s very self-deprecating.”
“It’s a British trait. Part of our national character.”
This is actually true. I miss living in England.
Also Elena (Mrs. Robinson) confronts Ana but Ariel talked a lot about this in her post yesterday whereas I spent three hundred words talking about Led Zeppelin, so just go read her post to know more about this. Look, I’m sorry, it was just really important to talk about Led Zeppelin.
When the chapter finally ends, they go back home and find that the tires on Ana’s new car are slashed and they suspect Leila is around and Ana is left with the security guards while Christian goes into his apartment to see if Leila managed to get in! It’s an actual cliffhanger! Tune in next week to find out, because I’m definitely not reading any more of this book before then.