Chapter 8

Summary: Chapter 8

Arriving at Sharon and Ike’s ski house, Michael throws snowballs at Katherine, and she helps Sharon unpack groceries. In a moment alone, Katherine tells Michael that her period has started and Michael says he’s not disappointed about how this may affect their being intimate. Later around the fireplace, Michael and Katherine talk with Sharon and Ike, and Katherine learns that Sharon is an anthropologist at the Museum of Natural History. 

At bedtime, Michael and Katherine take turns using their shared bathroom and wish each other goodnight. Katherine, who hoped Michael would see her in her prettiest nightgown, worries he feels disappointed in her. A few minutes later, Michael comes to Katherine’s room. He tells her he wanted to prove that he wasn’t trying to get her to the ski house just for sex. Michael then says he wants to feel her skin against his, so he unbuttons her nightgown and takes off his pajama top. Lying on the bed, he tries to put his hand between her legs. Katherine stops him because of her period, even though Michael says he doesn’t mind. Michael then tells Katherine he loves her. She thinks the same but worries it’s too soon to be certain. They fall asleep together.

Analysis: Chapter 8

Though Michael professes his love to her, Katherine is unable to immediately say she loves him back for several reasons. Katherine’s emotions for Michael have deepened but, understanding that she might not be able to fully trust her perceptions when it comes to love, she holds back from expressing her true feelings. On some level, Katherine fears that though it’s the most intense romantic relationship she’s had, it may not last forever, and therefore it may not be love. At this point, Katherine sees love, sex, and forever as a single entity. She wants to have sex but feels she shouldn’t until she is sure she will love Michael and he will love her forever. In another complication, Katherine questions Michael’s motives when she analyzes his reaction to her saying no. Her experience with Tommy has made her distrust boys’ intentions. She worries that Michael will stop loving her if she refuses to have sex, but she doesn’t want to have sex with someone who could stop loving her.

Chapter 8 explores skiing as a symbol for Katherine losing her virginity. Her experience learning to ski foreshadows her experience of losing her virginity. She is afraid of both skiing and having sex for the first time. The ski lift comes before she believes she is ready, and she finds herself at the top of a hill and the only way to get down is to ski. In the same way, Katherine finds herself going further with Michael and though she’s scared of going all the way, having sex with Michael begins to feel inevitable. Just as the first time she skis she spends a lot of time falling and struggling, Katherine and Michael’s initial forays into sex are awkward and leave Katherine feeling disappointed and unsure if she’s doing things correctly. However, as she skis more and more, she becomes more comfortable and experimental. Just as she gains confidence skiing, she begins to understand herself more as a sexual being. As with skiing, Michael leads the way toward having sex with both patience and teasing. As they ski, Michael and Katherine develop a deeper understanding of each other.