Chapters 6 & 7

Summary: Chapter 6

Talking with Katherine at school, Erica complains that Artie hasn’t kissed her yet and resolves to make the first move after his school play. On the night of the play, Katherine comments on the production—how good Artie is as the lead and how Sybil looks like she’s put on weight. She also gets jealous when Elizabeth comes onstage wearing a bikini. 

Later, at the large cast party at Elizabeth’s house, Katherine acts standoffish to Michael, watchful for signs that Michael prefers Elizabeth. She also talks to Artie about his desire to be a professional actor. When Michael suggests that he and Katherine leave the party, they go back to Katherine’s house, where she admits to her jealousy. Fooling around on the rug in the den, Michael tries to go further sexually than Katherine wants. She tells him she’s not mentally ready even though Michael thinks her body is ready. He accuses her of being a tease. Although Katherine doesn’t want to do anything more in that moment, she tells Michael that she wants to learn how to satisfy him sexually. After Michael leaves, Katherine wonders what it will be like to have sex, something she both wants and is afraid to do. 

Summary: Chapter 7

Michael tells Katherine that he’s taking her skiing in Vermont over school break. He explains that they will drive up with his sister Sharon and her husband Ike, a medial resident, and that they’ll be staying for three nights. Roger, worrying about Katherine’s safety, says he needs to discuss the proposed plan with Diana. At school, Erica guesses that Roger feels concerned that Katherine will have sex on her ski getaway. She also tells Katherine that Artie kissed her on the cheek after the cast party. Erica adds that she asked Artie if he is gay, and when he said he didn’t know, she offered to help him find out. 

After school, Diana tells Katherine she can go on the ski trip, and they go shopping for ski clothes. While Katherine still needs to rent skis and boots, Michael offers to buy her lift ticket. At bedtime, Roger talks to Katherine about her and Michael being young and needing to make smart decisions. Katherine tells Roger that Michael is not obsessed with sex, so he shouldn’t worry.

Analysis: Chapters 6 & 7

Chapters 6 and 7 explore how confusing sex can be for young people to navigate. At this point in the novel, though Michael and Katherine have deep feelings for each other, Katherine is uncertain whether she is ready to have sex. Though she feels physically ready, her need to understand her emotions complicates her decision. On the other hand, though Michael is very ready to have sex physically, Katherine’s uncertainty causes him to question her intentions and wonder if he can trust her with his emotions. At this moment, they are at a standoff. The confusing nature of sex shows up in Artie and Erica’s relationship as well. Erica is unsure why Artie doesn’t make any advances, and when she confronts him, he admits he’s unsure about his sexuality. This leaves them both unsatisfied to some extent and with a lack of clarity on how to move forward. This couple, while confused, symbolizes the most important aspect of young relationships, exploration and figuring things out. Erica and Artie show that young relationships can teach us something about ourselves even when they don’t last forever.

Choosing to have sex is a pivotal moment in a young person’s life because it symbolizes becoming an adult and breaking away from adult caregivers. Blume emphasizes this aspect of Katherine’s decision in the portrayal of Katherine’s parents, who, though more permissive than their parents, still attempt to slow down Katherine’s attachment to Michael. Katherine’s father in particular struggles with letting Katherine fully grow up through a sexual relationship with Michael, in part because he knows that teenage love is almost always tenuous and short-lived. He wants to protect his child from getting hurt, but risk is part of adulthood. Katherine’s parents know they cannot hold onto the little girl that Katherine was, but they repeatedly try to protect her from the pain and difficulty of adult lessons. Becoming sexually active is a normal part of growing up, and Katherine’s parents are kind and understanding, but by having them show some resistance, Blume shows this decision is wholly Katherine’s.