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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Ann Brashares

Chapters 23 and 24

Chapters 21 and 22

Epilogue

Summary: Chapter 23

“Is there world enough for me?”

—Jane Frances

Albert is thrilled that Carmen came to the wedding and insists that Carmen be included in the pictures, even though she’s wearing jeans. After dinner, she dances with Paul, who tells her he and Skeletor broke up and that Carmen makes Albert happy. Then she dances with Albert, who vows to be honest with her from now on. Carmen sends the Pants to Lena. In the letter, she says that she and Tibby have used the Pants well.

When Tibby finishes her shift, she goes to the back entrance of Wallman’s, crying because she knows Bailey won’t be showing up. Tucker Rowe finds her there and asks if she wants to have some coffee. Tibby says no, realizing she no longer has a crush on him. Then the woman with long fingernails, whose name is Angela, tells Tibby she knows Bailey is sick and that she and Bailey talked together once a week over iced tea.

Lena receives the Pants on her last day in Greece, and they give her the push she needs to tell Kostos how she feels. She takes her painting and finds him at the forge. They sit down together on a wall, and Lena gives him the painting. Then Lena tries to tell him what she wants to tell him, but her words come out in a jumble. She manages to apologize for the confusion with their grandfathers. Then, racked with nerves, she plows ahead and tells him she likes him. She kisses him, and Kostos kisses back.

Summary: Chapter 24

“In your eyes I am complete.”

—Peter Gabriel

After visiting Bailey, Tibby goes to see Brian McBrian at the arcade. He teaches her how to play Dragon Master. He admits he’s been visiting Bailey every day, and he shows Tibby the portable video game system he bought for her. When Tibby leaves, she thinks about how a lot of small things can add up to happiness.

During Lena’s final breakfast with her grandfather, she realizes that it’s okay for them to sit in silence. Her grandfather tells her she’s his girl.

Tibby can see that Bailey’s health is declining. Bailey, while playing Dragon Master, asks Tibby when her friends will return, and how Brian McBrian is doing. Tibby tells Bailey she’s a good judge of character. Bailey is falling asleep, and she gives Tibby the game’s controls, telling her to keep playing.

Bridget writes to Lena, telling her she feels “strange.” She writes again to say she’s frightened.

On the plane home from Greece, Lena worries over Bridget’s letters. She knows that Bridget still suffers over her mother’s death and that she gets scared sometimes when she feels alone and powerless. She wakes up Effie and tells her she’s going to go to Los Angeles, instead of home, to get Bridget.

Tibby gets a phone call from a sobbing Mrs. Graffman, and she knows Bailey is dead. She goes to the funeral with Bailey’s mismatched group of friends: Angela, Brian, Duncan, Margaret, Carmen. Late that night, unable to sleep, she takes Mimi out of the freezer and rides her bike to the cemetery. She tucks Mimi into a small hole she digs near Bailey’s grave. For a moment, Tibby feels like dying too, but then she gets up, vowing to live well for Bailey’s sake.

Lena makes her way to Bridget’s camp. She finds Bridget in bed. Outside, she gives Bridget the Pants and asks Bridget to tell her what happened. Bridget tells Lena she helped already just by coming.

Analysis

Death touches all the friends in some way, either this summer or at some point in their past. Dealing with death forces them to gain new perspectives and learn how to cope with grief. Bridget has dealt with death for many years, since her mother died, and she continues to struggle with her feelings of loss. Without a mother to support her, Bridget often feels lost, and she leans on her friends to be a steady source of comfort and strength for her. Lena learns about Kostos’s sad family history, with his whole family dying in a car accident, and her knowledge changes her perspective on both Kostos and herself. Kostos, even though he’s experienced great sadness, is still willing to open up his heart, whereas Lena is not. This realization helps Lena to take more risks in her life. Carmen doesn’t face a physical death this summer, but she confronts the death of her fantasy relationship with her father, which was rooted in their avoidance of conflict. Only by opening up to each other can they revive their relationship and grow closer. Tibby must deal with two deaths this summer: Mimi’s and Bailey’s. Always strong and feisty, Tibby is laid low by her encounters with death, unsure about how to deal with them. At first, she opts to simply deny reality. Through her sadness, though, she eventually finds a new will to make her own life count.

Unlike Bridget, whose brazenness leads to heartbreak with Eric, Lena finds happiness when she makes a bold move for Kostos. Until now, Lena has lived passively, hoping someone would come along and pull her out of her quiet, private realm. She has hoped Kostos would look at her, but she didn’t take any action to make it happen. She has wanted him to know she likes him, but she never actually told him, nor did she give him any clues. Lena is terrified of taking risks that leave her vulnerable to rejection, but Kostos is so important to her that she finds the courage to bear her heart to him. The novelty of this experience leaves her flustered and nervous, but she ultimately finds happiness. Bridget, accustomed to such boldness and unfamiliar with rejection, pursues Eric without thinking twice. Her experience is not new—but the devastation that comes to her is.

Bailey befriends the people Tibby had pinpointed as ridiculous losers for her film, teaching Tibby about the importance of looking beyond appearances to find out what people are really like. Tibby had dismissed the Wallman’s manager, Duncan, as being absurd, because he was a stickler for the Wallman’s rules. But Bailey got to know him enough to see how much he liked having Tibby around the store. Tibby had written off Angela, because of her extremely long fingernails, but Bailey took the time to talk to her, uncovering the sad, vulnerable woman underneath. Brian seemed like a complete loser to Tibby, with his video game obsession and terrible fashion sense, but, with Bailey’s help, Tibby sees the good person inside. Eventually, Tibby opens herself up to Brian and lets him teach her how to play Dragon Master, and she realizes that there’s more to Brian than she gave him credit for. And Bailey had instant compassion for Margaret, the movie theater employee who has memorized bits of dialogue. Tibby, quick to sarcasm but not to kindness, learns a lot from Bailey in the short time they spend together. The scene at the gravesite shows that Tibby will keep Bailey’s lessons in mind for the rest of her life.

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