Last Updated on August 12, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1708
Five Months Later (December 2013)
Marianne is studying abroad in Lund, Sweden, where she sits reading her emails at the university. Joanna has written, asking about Marianne’s new friend Lukas, who will be photographing Marianne later that day. Connell has also written her an email suggesting that Lukas may become Marianne’s new boyfriend.
Marianne emerges into the streets of Lund, where snow is falling, and walks to Lukas’s photography studio. Lukas has white-blond hair and dresses all in black. When Marianne first met him, she lied to him, telling him she was a writer. Realizing her mistake, she has avoided the subject ever since. As she arrives at the studio and follows Lukas upstairs, Marianne finds that she doesn’t care where she is; in recent weeks, she has begun feeling disassociated from reality, as though the world can’t truly touch her.
Whenever Marianne comes over, Lukas immediately begins talking about himself, never so much as offering his guest a drink of water, and he seems confused when Marianne responds to what he says. Despite this, Lukas is extremely perceptive when it comes to art of all kinds: he has the ability to notice and criticize minute aesthetic details, yet he seems morally vacant. Marianne finds this disturbing, as it suggests to her that art might be “pointless.”
Marianne explains that at Lukas’s apartment, the two of them play “the game”: they have sex, and if Marianne doesn’t remain completely silent and avoid looking Lukas in the eye, Lukas punishes her afterward. After sex and before allowing her to shower, which ends the game, Lukas verbally abuses Marianne. This both sickens and relieves her, and once she has showered, Marianne enters a state of depression so “tranquilizing” that she feels she possesses no autonomy over her own body. Lately, she has ceased to feel even the most basic of desires, such as hunger and thirst, except in the brief moments when she makes unexpected eye contact with strangers.
Marianne is no longer close to the majority of her friends. After she broke up with Jamie, most of them, including Peggy, took Jamie’s side. Marianne believes deep down that her whole life has been defined by men dominating her, whether her father, Alan, Jamie, Lukas, or even Connell. Peggy reacted particularly badly to the break-up, stating that she was Marianne’s “best friend” yet refusing to take her side. Marianne’s only remaining friend aside from Connell is Joanna, who now has a girlfriend named Evelyn. Joanna no longer speaks to Peggy, and she tells Marianne that she never particularly liked Peggy or Jamie. Marianne is surprised by this but realizes that the main reason she liked them herself was that they made her feel popular. She realizes that the only reason she did not accept friendships with “bad people” at school was because no one offered her their friendship then.
Marianne has decided not to go home for Christmas this year, as she wishes to distance herself from her family. Yet thinking back to the beauty of Carricklea at Christmas, she is consumed by feelings of nostalgia and grief for the person she used to be.
Lukas readies his camera and asks Marianne to remove her sweater and then her bra, which she does. She reluctantly allows Lukas to bind her wrists with ribbon, but when he wants to blindfold her, she recoils and tells him no. Ignoring her protests, Lukas squeezes her throat and says that they love each other, which horrifies Marianne. It is only when she threatens to call the police that he agrees to untie her. Lukas asks her what he did wrong and if she returns his feelings, but Marianne tells him she feels “nothing” for him. He turns his back to her, and Marianne wonders if he is laughing or if his...
(The entire section contains 1708 words.)
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