Cary Got Beaten Up And We Missed It!: Reflected In You Chapter 12

Happy October, readers! As we begin to wrap up The Host (last chapter and epilogue next week!), I’m certain that a bunch of you are wondering what we’re reading next, and we can offer you a little hint. It’s October and we’re a month away from Halloween, so, reader, you know, beware.

Chapter 12

Eva and Gideon return from their weekend away and go to sleep in separate bedrooms in Eva’s apartment because of Gideon’s atypical sexual parasomnia, and it’s actually one of the few times the book handles the situation like a sad source of tension in their relationship, although this is somewhat muted by the immediate reminder that Eva somehow can afford an apartment with a guest room in New York City.

I wondered how long we’d be sleeping apart from each other. Months? Years?
Hating to think of it, I closed my eyes and started to drift.

The story continues to be sad with the news that Cary was attacked last Friday and is in the hospital! This is only sad for the characters of this novel, however, because I fucking hate Cary and I’m really upset that he got the shit beaten out of him and we missed it because we had to spend the weekend with the happy fucking couple (literally). I don’t mean to sound like a sadist, but can I tell you how much I would have preferred – nay, loved – reading about the character in this novel I hate the most getting beaten up?

Because it'd be this happy.
It would have been like this.

Okay, before you judge me too much, let’s go visit Cary in the hospital and remember what an awful character he is.

He relaxed with a sigh. “You’re a sight for sore eyes, baby girl.”
“What the hell happened?” I set the empty cup down and grabbed his hand again.
“Fuck if I know.” His voice was weak, almost a whisper. “Got jumped. With a bat. […] Teaches me. Don’t stick my dick in the wrong chick.”

Well, uh, then it sounds like you do know what happened? Seriously, no new information is relayed to Cary between “Fuck if I know why I got jumped” and “I got beaten up for sleeping with the wrong woman”.

“You didn’t tell me about Brett and Six-Ninths.”
“Oh yeah…” A bit of his old sparkle came back into his eyes. […]
“Why didn’t you tell me Captive Soul (note for people who are paying less attention than I am: Six-Ninths’ name when Eva was involved with Brett) had signed with a major label?”
“I didn’t want you to hear their first single if it could be helped.”

But then you learned Eva was going to their concert, so you thought, “Ah, fuck it; this is gonna be hilarious” instead? We can only assume that’s what his thinking was, because this gap in his logic is never addressed.

“Gideon’s making arrangements to get you home with a private nurse.”
“Ooh… that’s a fantasy of mine. Can you make sure the nurse is hot? And single?”
My brows rose. Inside, though I was so relieved to see him looking and sounding more like himself.

“Relieved” is a word. Also, wait, isn’t Cary trying to get back together with his ex, Trey?

“I can’t be faithful like he wants. Just him and me. I like women. Love them, actually. I’d be cutting off half of who I am. Just thinking about it makes me resent him. […] I get it, I do. If he told me he wanted to bang some other guy while seeing me, it’d bother the fuck out of me.”
“But not if it were a woman?”
“No. I don’t know. Shit. […] Would it make a difference to you if Cross were banging another man? Or just another woman?”

Ariel mentioned yesterday that Cary’s just an awful stereotype that bisexual people are attracted to everyone and are just kind of sex monsters.

Whereas actual sex monsters were on an episode of Torchwood once.
Whereas actual sex monsters are a serious problem, as was seen on an episode of Torchwood once.

But even taking away the awful stereotype (which – let me tell you – is pretty difficult, because an awful sex stereotype is pretty much all Cary is), Cary is just an awful person. Yes, settling down with one person means you can’t sleep with other people regardless of whether you’re straight or gay or bi. Not being able to pursue sex with other people isn’t “cutting off half of who I am”, it’s being a fucking adult. If I – a straight male – were to say something like, “I like women with big tits and women with small tits! I can’t be faithful with someone with small tits, just her and me! It’d be cutting off half of who I am!”, would that sound like a legitimate complaint to you? What would your reaction be?

Like this, but instead of Joffrey... a sandwich.
Appropriately, this is exactly what happened to Cary, except with a baseball bat.

And then Eva’s mom shows up to compete for the title of Worst Sylvia Day Character.

“Are the police investigating?” I asked.
“Yes, of course, but I don’t know how much good it will do.” She dabbed at the corners of her eyes. “I love Cary dearly, but he’s a tramp. I doubt he can recall all the women and men he’s been with.”

This is… weird? Awful? Insulting? Rubbing salt in the wound? Vaguely relevant at best? Useless?

I could go on.

I knew [Gideon’s] thoughtfulness had to come at a price – literally. After a weekend away, he should be digging his way out of a small mountain of work worth millions, not running around taking care of me. “God, I love you.”
“Eva!” My mother’s startled exclamation made me wince. She advocated withholding the words I love you until the wedding night.

Okay, wait. Sex before marriage is totally fine, but saying I love you to someone before you marry them is crossing the line? That is just an awful sense of priorities. No wonder Eva’s so incapable of behaving like an adult.

“He’s going to marry you,” my mother said, coming up to stand beside me. “You know that, don’t you? […] I don’t care if you listen to me because I’m your mother and you have to – […] You’ve got everything you need to be the perfect wife for a man of his stature, but you’re still replaceable, Eva.”

Oh my God, what a clusterfuck of heteronormativity, objectification of women, and emotionally abusive parenting! It’s like how the mother kept trying to get her daughter to fit into her role as a princess in Brave, except replace “role as a princess” with “gold digging woman who marries a man for his money because women can’t take care of themselves”.

And then
And then I guess take “in Brave” out of that sentence too, because that isn’t really the plot of the movie anymore.

Anyway, someone finally thinks to tell Trey that his sort of ex-boyfriend, Cary, is in the hospital.

“Who else do I blame for the fact that he’s screwing around with another guy’s girl” […]
“Would you consider counseling? With both of you, I mean.”
He looked at me with haunted eyes for a long minute; then his shoulders slumped. “I don’t know. I think I have to decide if I can live with him cheating.”

OH MY GOD, is there not a single not-fucked-up character in this book? Even the boyfriend that Cary cheated on has somehow become someone I can’t empathize with. Does every single character in this story have completely alienating views on sexuality and relationships? Fucking Megumi is the only character I can still relate to. Megumi.

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  1. Kristin Reply

    OK, maybe I am feeling generous this AM (or more realistically I am simply procrastinating from doing actual work this AM) BUT, I am going to defend Day a little bit here. (Aerial, please don’t make me leave again! :p)

    I don’t think she is deliberately making Cary a bisexual stereotype. He is an asshole to the nth degree, but I don’t think that is because he is bisexual. I think he just happens to be an asshole who is also bisexual, KWIM? Clearly he has commitment issues, but again, I don’t think its because he is bisexual. Its because of his own messed up childhood, lack of positive role models etc. So why make him bisexual in the first place? I guess because “just” a gay roommate wouldn’t have given any reason for the friction between him and Cross?

    As for Mom withholding I love you until the wedding the night, that seems backwards to me. I would think that as a gold digger she would say it every night UNTIL the wedding night and then start withholding it (simply because by then she got what she wanted) but whatever.

    I think what Day is trying to do is to show how fucked up all the so called “adults” in Eva’s life behave, thus the reason why she is so emotionally stunted as well. She doesn’t have anyone to demonstrate what a normal, healthy relationship is supposed to look like. So while I applaud the attempt at trying to make the characters more complex than EL James did with Ana/Christian, the major failure in this whole series is that Eva/Gideon’s relationship IS ridiculously unhealthy, however, it really isn’t portrayed that way. I guess when you are grading it on a curve based on the other morons in her life, theirs is the most healthy but if you throw normal people in there too…. well, I don’t think I have to explain grading on a curve to recent college grads.

    Anyway, just my two cents on the matter. 🙂

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      I actually had a bit in this post that would have addressed what you’re saying, but I took it out because I thought it might be a bit too “English major”.

      Basically, it doesn’t matter what Day meant to do or was trying to do. There’s this thing called the intentional fallacy, which means that you can’t say that the meaning of a text was whatever the author intended it to be just because they’re the author, because the meaning of a text can be lesser or greater than the author’s intentions. So the author’s understanding of their own work is in no way “more correct” than other peoples’ interpretations of their work – which is an especially important concept when you have texts like Sylvia Day’s where (from what we can tell) the author firmly believes they are writing a romance, albeit with a dark twist but a story about true love all the same, but where others can read it and go, “No… no this is nothing like that at all.”

      Getting back to your comment (I promise that was all relevant), it doesn’t matter whether the author “is deliberately making Cary a bisexual stereotype” or whether his awful character “is because he is bisexual”. What matters is that there is a stereotype about people who are like this, and that there is a character in this book who is like this and fits that stereotype to a tee. To use a more extreme example, think about the old stereotype that black people are stupid and lazy, and think about all the old books and movies that depict characters of that stereotype; it ultimately doesn’t matter whether the people writing those stories “meant to” write black characters this way or whether they did it “because” they’re black, they’re still perpetuating a negative stereotype. You could use the counterargument that the story needs a character like this anyway (Reflected In You needs a promiscuous and self-destructive foil for Eva, old horror movies from the 1950s need a stupid character to die first), but falling back on stereotypes to fill that role aren’t only lazy writing, but they’re insulting writing, and problematic writing.

      And that’s the real problem with Reflected In You. There’s nothing “bad” about a story about super unhealthy and self-destructive people (there are countless examples of “good” stories that are just this, from The Great Gatsby to Breaking Bad – or for a story that works as a counter-example to the aforementioned black person stereotype, Ann Petry’s The Street). What’s bad about Reflected In You is that all of these characters are stereotypes, and they range from two-dimensional, static, boring stereotypes (Eva’s mom is an attractive but vain gold digger) to negative and insulting stereotypes (Cary is a promiscuous bisexual man who’ll sleep with anyone). From a storytelling perspective, this is weak because instead of creating a living, breathing world of immature adults that has forced Eva to be the responsible one while simultaneously making it impossible for her to do so, it creates a cartoon world of ridiculous people that the reader *can’t* care about how they interact with Eva because there’s just no way they’re fleshed out enough to be able to. From a moral perspective, this is weak because negative stereotypes only promote limited thinking, so the more frequently we see LGBT people portrayed in media as promiscuous and literally nothing else, the more frequently people assume that all LGBT people are promiscuous. Having a character who is a promiscuous asshole who just happens to also be bisexual is as bad as having a character who is cheap and stingy who just happens to also be Jewish, or a character who is a bad driver who just happens to also be Asian. Whether she meant to or not, Day has written an offensive novel that devalues people.

      So, yes, it does make sense for Eva to have a promiscuous character to serve as her foil, because, as you very correctly point out, there is definitely a story in how Eva is surrounded by emotionally unhealthy people and that makes her own struggles with emotional well-being more difficult. And I would have enjoyed reading that story. But none of Sylvia Day’s people are people, and so this is not that story.

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      • Rebecca Reply

        Haha I loved reading this post,really thoughtful. I am also wondering if you are probably both looking too deep into it, speaking about a possible explaination of Eva’s behaviour that probably isn’t even there. Probably the immature adults are just immature for no particular reason at all except for Sylvia Day being tired as hell with writing and just choosed a few characters from the wikipedia stock characters list such as village idiot for Cary and a blonde stereotype for Eva’s mother, assuming that everyone already forgets them before they can even hate them anyway. I totally agree with that last sentence 😀

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      • Kate Reply

        Matthew, your English major rants are my favorite part of this blog. Every time you school your readers on something like intentional fallacy, I find myself left with the overwhelming desire to take you out for a beer and sit there with my chin on my hands, beaming at you while you talk about everything that’s wrong with popular erotic fiction.
        As to the rest of the chapter, I feel like Day should put more effort into developing her character’s personalities, instead of just coming up with a particular archetype and expecting her readers to believe that the character fits that archetype just because the other characters constantly talk about it. It’s clear that Day planned her cast of characters with a list of roles in mind, and she barely scraped together enough personality traits to make any given character fill that spot. Snarky, Sexually Adventurous Best Friend? That’s what Cary is for, with bonus!bisexuality to add an extra kick of “wildness” to him. Generic but Likable Girlfriend? Enter Shawna. Hell, let’s throw Megumi in there, too. Overbearing Mom? Hardworking and Supportive Boss? Bitter Ex-Girlfriends Numbers One-Through-Twelve? Sexy Rocker Ex-Boyfriend? There isn’t a single character in this novel who surprises me, and it’s kind of unbearable. For all the kink these books claim to have, I’m pretty sure that the whole experience is a lot more painful for me as a reader than it is for any of the characters.

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        • matthewjulius Reply

          I appreciate the sentiment/offer to go get a beer XD Although it was definitely not my intention to school Kristin. True, I disagreed with some of her points and wanted to explain why (it’s what I went to college for), but what I really hoped to do was help one of our readers understand an issue a little better.

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      • Kristin Reply

        I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree on Day’s intentions of her portrayal of Cary (since like you rightly pointed out, everyone’s interpretations, whether they are the author or not, are no more or less correct). I agree with another poster that her attempts at filling out these supporting characters are half-assed at best, which allows for all these differing interpretations. However, my own collegiate background, which ironically began as an English major but concluded with a degree in Psychology, is perhaps why I feel differently about Cary’s promiscuity. I still stand firm in my perception that the root cause of said promiscuity and/or commitment issues has nothing to do with being bisexual but everything to do with his fucked up childhood/adolescence and his half-hearted attempt at therapy to deal with it (which is sort of mentioned, but in true Day fashion, not really given the time to develop and become a major part of his personality). Like I said in my first post, he isn’t a promiscuous asshole BECAUSE he’s bisexual, he’s a promiscuous asshole who also happens to be bisexual. And it is her lazy writing regarding these supporting characters that is perpetuating a stereotype, even if the intent wasn’t there.

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        • matthewjulius Reply

          Aw, man, I wish I took a Psych class in college, but I had my hands full with my double major. I feel like, as you point out, Cary’s half-hearted attempts at therapy could (and SHOULD – which is the really frustrating part of all of this) actually be interesting, but Day’s flat writing and Cary’s proximity to an offensive stereotype only work against it here. Although man, I do wish I could analyze Cary from a Psychology perspective in addition to an English major perspective.

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    • Ali Reply

      except for the line “it’s not your fault he cheats, he’s bisexual”

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  2. E.H.Taylor Reply

    This book would be so much more interesting if Cary was like the sex monster from Torchwood! Then again, Day may just somehow twist it into some warped combination of 50 Shades AND The Host… That’s a scary thought.

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  3. Shannon Reply

    Can I just say that I LOVE THIS BLOG?! I love that it is snarky, sarcastic, adult-humor with a 12yr old boy twist to it, relevant, and also educational. Thank you for this. Just thank you.

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  4. 22aer22 Reply

    Matt, your comment about intentional fallacy and the stereotypes in this book should be a bonus post! Nailed it!

    It just doesn’t matter if Day means to attribute Cary’s promiscuity with bisexuality. She can’t say things like “Sleeping with a man forever and no more women is cutting off part of me,” without the two seeming very obviously (and even intentionally here!) connected.

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  5. Lovecraft Reply

    I’d like to mention that unless you said Captive Soul was the band name I’d be seriously believing this became a Host x Crossfire crossover which would … become even worse because instead of having frustrating events we’d have … nothing?

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