The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Chapters 11 and 12
Summary: Chapter 11
“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Got that?”—Coach Brevin
At the hospital, Lena’s grandfather gets stitches on his cheek. In the fray, a drop of blood got on the Pants, and Lena tries to wash it off. She feels guilty for making her grandparents think Kostos attacked her, and she tells herself she’ll explain everything soon.
Bridget writes to Lena about being too aggressive during the game and that she feels powerless in the face of her hormones when it comes to Eric.
Bailey surprises Tibby at home and tells her she wants to help with the movie. Tibby declines, since she hasn’t even started the movie yet. Bailey asks if she can hold Mimi, then lifts her out of her box. Bailey guilt-trips Tibby into letting her help. She asks Tibby why her siblings are so much younger, and Tibby explains how her parents were once radical but aren’t anymore. Bailey suggests that Tibby was their “experiment,” which Tibby feels is true.
Lena writes to Tibby and tells her what happened with Kostos.
Carmen, alone in the kitchen, spots Krista’s geometry homework. She loves proofs, so she finishes the rest. Paul sees her, but he doesn’t ask any questions. The next day, Krista tries to find out who did her homework, but Paul doesn’t tell on Carmen. He leaves mysteriously. Lydia tells Carmen the wedding reception will now be in their backyard, but Carmen doesn’t care. She and her father go to play tennis, and Albert tells her that Paul went to visit his father, with whom Krista and Lydia have no contact. Carmen feels angry that they’ve abandoned their family.
Bailey tells Tibby she’s set up an interview with a kid who hangs out in an arcade and gets high scores on video games.
Summary: Chapter 12
“If you don’t find it in the index, look very carefully throughout the entire catalog.”—Sears, Roebuck catalog
Tibby and Bailey meet the video game player, Brian McBrian. Tibby thinks Brian exactly fits her idea of a loser. She’s surprised that Bailey knows how to set up the camera and microphone. Brian tells Tibby about his favorite game, Dragon Master, which has twenty-eight levels. Tibby, surprised to find she’s interested, films Brian playing the game.
Bridget joins Eric for another run. He insinuates that she played too hard during the scrimmage, and Bridget admits she was doing it for him. He tells her quietly that he thinks she’s wonderful, but that she’s too young for him and it’s a violation of the rules. Bridget says rules don’t matter to her, but Eric says they do to him.
During breakfast with her grandfather, Lena tries to tell him the truth about what happened with Kostos, but she chickens out. She takes a long walk, hoping to see Kostos, but she doesn’t and feels disappointed.
Bridget writes to Carmen about sightseeing she’s done in Mexico. She saw a volcano field named “Three Virgins,” and she says if it’d been “Four Virgins,” it would have suited them.
Telling the truth is difficult for Lena, who fears that opening up will force her to confront things she’d rather deny or ignore. Lena’s suppression of the truth initially led to a fight between her and Kostos’s grandfathers, and her continued unwillingness to come clean fuels the anger between the families. By keeping her knowledge to herself, Lena also harms Kostos’s reputation. However, she is unable to admit what really happened. Telling everyone that she overreacted when Kostos saw her skinny-dipping might lead to more questions, such as why she’s so unwilling to open herself up to other people and why she is so distrustful of boys. Lena, despite her beauty, is intensely self-conscious, and the prospect of discussing herself at length seems too painful to bear. Also, being honest with her grandparents requires her to trust them fully. Although she is getting to know them better as the summer goes on, she doesn’t yet feel free enough around them to fully reveal her thoughts, feelings, and mistakes. Lena’s episode is, in some sense, a lesson to readers about being comfortable with who they are, understanding the importance of telling the truth, and developing a willingness to do difficult things to help someone else.
When Carmen gets angry at Krista and Lydia for ceasing contact with Lydia’s ex-husband, she is really expressing her anger at her own father, who, in many ways, abandoned Carmen and her mother after the divorce. Albert has dutifully visited Carmen several times a year, and he’s very much a part of Carmen’s life, but he has cut Carmen’s mother out entirely. When he asks how her mother is, Carmen knows he isn’t really interested. Carmen is loyal to her mother, and she feels Albert’s disinterest as a betrayal. However, she and Albert do not have the kind of relationship where Carmen can express her anger, disappointment, or sadness. Instead, she has to keep her feelings to herself, or tell them only to her mother, Christina, and her friends. When she gets upset at what Albert tells her about Lydia and Krista, she is directing her anger at the wrong target: the person she is truly hurt by is sitting right next to her in the car.
Bailey has an innate talent for seeing straight to the heart of people, even those she’s never met before. She has managed to see through Tibby’s reluctance and pursue a friendship with her, and she seems to understand Tibby’s parents in a way that even Tibby does not. Bailey is able to articulate the fact that Tibby was her parents’ “experiment,” while Tibby had never been able to explain the difference between herself as a child and her two baby siblings. Bailey is the one who finds Brian, their first interview for the documentary, but she seems to see something beyond the awkward exterior that Tibby ridicules. A purely ridiculous person wouldn’t make a very compelling interview, and Brian has an intensity—and a talent—that catches Tibby off guard. The fact that Bailey intuitively knew how to set up Tibby’s camera equipment suggests that Bailey is able to see people clearly, even artfully, as Tibby aspires to do in her documentary.
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