Thursday, 31 May 2012

Chapter Two: of Hawks and Handsaws

Chapter Two

This chapter opens with Ana, yes, you guessed it, falling headfirst out of the elevator in Grey Enterprises. She says that no man has ever affected her the way Christian Grey just did, and she can’t fathom why. She's twenty-two years old and she's been at college for four years. I'm not saying that everyone has to sleep around in college but for the vast majority of people there is some kind of sexual awakening during this time. Ana - sweet, virginal, innocent Ana, has never felt sexual attraction towards another man. No word yet on whether she's hit puberty. 

What’s most annoying about this part is that, in wondering why Christian affects her so much, she questions whether it could be his looks, his wealth, his power, or his ‘civility’. I like good manners as much as the next girl, but a man showing some standard, common courtesy has never really made me get hot under the collar. Also - looks, wealth and power are presented as really great reasons to be attracted to a man. Cool. 

Ana curses herself all the way home about the interview. She gets home and Kate runs up to her and hugs her like she's just returned from war, not a four-hour round trip to a nearby city. Also, Kate has the flu. Don’t hug your friends when you have the flu! Gross. 

At this point, we learn that Ana works at a nearby hardware store called Clayton's. She's decided to head there for a shift now. This is where the fanfiction roots of the story are so apparent - we haven't heard anything about Ana being employed up until this point, and she seems to have just decided that she's going to work for a bit.

This is what happens at work: “[Mrs Clayton] sends me to the stockroom to start re-stocking shelves, and I’m soon absorbed in the task.” Then she goes home, no further information. Talk about filler?

When Ana gets home, Kate starts hinting that Christian Grey might fancy her. No, really?! After all that careful description of how utterly nondescript her appearance is, her rude questions and her constant falling over? How romantic. This guy must be a real keeper.

Ana admits she found him 'interesting' and Kate’s all like, "You?! Interested in a man?! That's a first!" As though they're not fully grown women who have reached sexual and emotional maturity. 

There’s some amusing intertextuality here, where Ana talks about working on a Tess of the D’Urbervilles essay – “Damn, but that woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong century,” she says. Firstly, ‘wrong time’ and ‘wrong century’ are exactly the same thing. Secondly (spoiler alert! Although if you haven’t read Tess, you don’t deserve to be alerted to spoilers – go and read it immediately), Tess murders her abusive husband at the end. It doesn’t matter what time or century you’re in, that kind of thing is still illegal.

Ana finishes her essay and goes to bed, pleased that she’s ‘accomplished so much for a Monday’. She did a favour for a friend, stocked some shelves in a stockroom and wrote a few paragraphs of the essay and it's an 'accomplishment'. 

Ana decides to call her mum in Georgia for a catch-up, and after all of three sentences (literally three), her mum deduces that Ana has met someone. I'm pretty close to my mum, and I know a lot of women are the same, but she'd need a lot more than three sentences out of me to magically be able to guess that I'd met someone. The author can't really be bothered giving her protagonist a real relationship with her mother (she just wants to write about sex, dammit) so she plonks her out of the way in Georgia and gives her psychic abilities to ensure their conversations are never longer than a few sentences. 

Some more comical intertextuality coming up. Ana's talking about her stepdad Ray, who apparently was the one to teach her 'the difference between a hawk and a handsaw'. This is a phrase from Hamlet and means that you have a strong grip of reality (something Ana clearly does not). Honestly, if you need to be taught the difference between a bird of prey and a carpentry tool, I'm surprised natural selection hasn't claimed you already. And doesn’t Ana work in a hardware store?!



At this point, Jose (Jacob) shows up at Ana and Kate’s apartment with a bottle of champagne. He’s managed to get his own exhibition at a gallery in Portland, and wants the girls to celebrate with him. Apparently, Jose is in love with Ana, but Ana doesn’t reciprocate. “He’s cute and funny, but he’s just not for me,” she says, although I don’t know how she’d be so sure of that considering the first time she felt attracted to any man was three days ago. 

Ana wonders if she is missing the ‘need-a-boyfriend gene’. Good grief. She starts wondering whether there’s something wrong with her. I will suspend my judgement for now.

I don’t know whether it’s the copy I’m reading or just the genuine, horrendous narrative, but after Jose pops the cork of his champagne, we’re suddenly back at Ana’s hardware store again, where she's getting mixed up between pelicans and power drills (probably). She’s scoffing a bagel behind the counter and trying not to do any work (hey, maybe I can empathise with this girl), when who should walk in? Christian Grey himself. You’re shocked, right? No, me neither.

He’s wearing a cream chunky-knit sweater, jeans and walking boots. In my head he looks like this:

"Hi, I'm Christian Grey."

They start having a little chat, and Ana is bewitched by his voice. “[It's] warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.” Or something?! That little afterthought isn’t something I’ve added; it’s verbatim from the book. Or something. I don’t know about you but when I buy a book, the least I expect is that the author/narrator is sure about what they’re trying to convey.

Ana shakes her head to gather her wits. Imagine doing this in a real life situation. You would look like a serious weirdo.

Basically, Christian has rocked up in this obscure, family-run hardware store that is conveniently Ana’s place of work because he wants to buy cable ties, masking tape and rope. Pretty much everything except for a body-bag and a really rusty knife. There don’t seem to be any alarm bells ringing in Ana’s head, but then again, I’m not sure there’s much of anything going on in Ana’s head beyond gawping at Christian’s intimidating cream chunky-knit sweater.  

Christian makes some quip about taking his clothes off, putting Ana’s coherency well and truly out of business for another few paragraphs. She thinks everything he says is a double entendre, and as readers, we already know that this book is about kinky sexual exploits, so we’re predisposed to do that, too. Ana makes a passing comment about how Kate could do with some photos to go alongside the interview they did, and Christian agrees to a photo shoot the following day. I don’t know whether that’s before or after he’s made use of his Mad Axe Murderer Kit, but either way, looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him.

Some male friend of Ana’s comes bounding up, hugs her and places a ‘possessive arm’ over her shoulder. Apparently every single male in this book has the hots for Ana, and the poor, na├»ve bookworm doesn’t have a clue. Pass me the sick bucket.

Ana comments that Christian is watching them like a hawk. Oh good, at least he's not watching them like a handsaw.


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