Chapter 18 Summary

Dolores continues her “re-parenting” work with Dr. Shaw. Emotionally, she is now at age ten. Dr. Shaw takes her to a toy store for her “birthday” and tells her to select a gift. Dolores chooses an “Etch-a-Sketch." Dolores becomes mesmerized with the device. Dr. Shaw becomes annoyed with her when, during their sessions, she focuses on little else other than making new drawings. For Dolores, she feels she is “sketching (her) way to adolescence.”

Two years later, it is 1973. Dolores takes a huge leap, moving from the hospital to Gracewood’s “halfway house.” Emotionally, according to Shaw, Dolores is now twelve; it is one year before she will be raped. Dolores refuses to talk about it in therapy, despite Shaw’s repeated and various attempts to do so.

In therapy, Dr. Shaw tries to talk to Dolores as her mother, and as a mother would speak to a maturing young woman—that is, as more of an equal and less as a child. Dolores warms to this approach somewhat. As doctor and patient talk, Dolores begins to reveal things about her mother that she had previously completely repressed. With Shaw acting as her mother and Dolores as her almost-thirteen-year-old self, Dolores confronts her mother about the rape. She calls her a "slut" and a "liar." She tells her “mother” that she knows what she has been doing with Jack while Rita is at work: her mother has been sleeping with Jack.

The pain comes tumbling out of Dolores. She yells about Jack touching her feet at the apartment. She remembers the brutality of the rape. She was hurt that her mother was sleeping with Jack before the rape. She remembers her mother trying to assuage her own guilt afterwards by plying Dolores with food, essentially asking her daughter to “swallow the truth.”

Dolores wants and needs her mother to realize how sick the rape has made her. She wants to be absolved from the weight she has gained in order to hide her pain. She wants her mother to defend her when the doctor who gives her the physical for college calls her fat. She wants more than anything for her mother to understand the profound depths of her pain.

Dolores collapses against Dr. Shaw, weak from her revelations. Shaw is shaken by the intense emotion but exhilarated as well. He knows that Dolores has finally achieved the breakthrough that has been some eight years past due.