Chapter 19 Summary

Dolores continues her therapy with Dr. Shaw, and through their work together, she achieves the ability to see her mother not as a “saint or a whore, but a fallible, sexual woman.” Dealing with her father is the next emotional mountain to climb. Dolores senses there is some sort of commonality between her father’s behavior and that of Jack Speight's, but she is not ready to deal with the implications of making that connection. She understands, however, that while her father was flawed, he was not what Jack was: a rapist.

It is now 1975. Dolores has been at Gracewood’s halfway house for two years. Dr. Shaw begins to hint that it is time to get a job. He knows of a position at a photo developing company. Dolores is afraid but agrees to give it a try. Within three months, she makes remarkable progress in her personal life. She quits smoking and opens her own checking account. She petitions for looser restrictions at Gracewood.

Developing the photographs of strangers gives Dolores insight into the lives of others. She sees all sorts of odd human behavior, from the pornographic to people obsessed with their dogs to a couple who takes pictures of themselves in various costumes while lying in coffins.

In December, Dolores receives a Christmas card from her father, which propels another discussion with Dr. Shaw. Dolores wants to just “let go of him.” Dr. Shaw asks if she thinks she is really able to do that.

Four months later, Dolores tells Dr. Shaw that she wants to quit therapy. Dr. Shaw is upset. He does not believe she is ready. Dolores tells him that she is tired of playing the “mother-daughter” game and is not even sure if it has helped, even though she is down to her lowest weight ever. She also tells Shaw that she has been going to see a psychic named Nadine because she is now more interested in the future than in the past. Dr. Shaw is not pleased with this information. He tells her that no one can predict the future; people are responsible for creating their own future and claiming their own happiness. Dolores does not take kindly to his criticism. She accuses him of wanting to continue playing god with her.

Dolores tells him about her Etch-a-Sketch portraits, which have evolved from common stick  figures to copies of the works of master artists. She has thirty-six such pieces, carefully preserved in her room. Dr. Shaw changes the subject and asks if the psychic has helped her. She says “as much as you have.” He is hurt. Shaw agrees to let Dolores go. Dolores tries to soften the blow by telling him he has truly helped her, but their parting is stilted.

At the psychic’s office once again, Dolores draws on her Etch-a-Sketch a large man with curly hair and wire-rimmed glasses. It resembles no one she knows, yet she proclaims, "That’s my husband."