Four Months Later (August 2011) & Three Months Later (November 2011)

Summary: Four Months Later (August 2011)

When Connell told Marianne he was taking Rachel to the dance, Marianne stopped going to school, except to take exams. Marianne’s mother was furious with her, but when Lorraine came to clean, Lorraine was quietly supportive, telling Marianne that Connell did not deserve her. At this point, Marianne is not especially angry with Connell. He had sex with her and enjoyed it, even though she thinks at this point that he found her repulsive. Connell has to live with himself, she thinks.

Alan hears from a friend that Connell earned a perfect score on his exams. To humiliate Marianne, who scored just short of perfect, Alan gets Connell on the phone and offers him a chance to talk to her. Alan is surprised when Connell accepts, and then angry when Marianne refuses to take the call. Marianne does not care, because soon she will be starting a new life somewhere else, away from Alan and away from her mother, who ignores Alan’s abusive behavior.

Summary: Three Months Later (November 2011)

When Marianne left school in April, Connell became depressed. He was ashamed over how he had treated her, but she ignored his calls and text messages. Lorraine felt that Connell’s shame was deserved and told him so, but she also felt badly for him. Connell tried to distract himself with drinking, and by having sex with various girls including Rachel, but he did not enjoy the sex. One day, Connell learned that his friends had known he was sleeping with Marianne and did not much care. He had hurt Marriane and himself for nothing.

After Connell has been at Trinity a little while, he is invited to a party by a classmate named Gareth, whom Connell knows only slightly. Gareth’s girlfriend turns out to be Marianne, who has many friends at the party. Marianne greets Connell cheerfully and tells him she misses him. When Connell tells her that he dated Rachel for a while, but then they broke up, Marianne sounds nearly sincere in saying she is sorry. Their conversation is like old times. They talk about Gareth’s right-wing politics. Connell wants to apologize for how he treated Marianne, but something prevents him from doing so.

Summary: Four Months Later (August 2011) & Three Months Later (November 2011)

These chapters explore the theme of shedding of identity and reinvention. As Marianne looks forward to a new life at college, she fears that she will be the same person trapped in her current identity amongst new people. When Connell encounters her at college, however, he finds her surrounded by friends and a popular boyfriend. She appears happy, bright, and the effortless center of attention. Her make-up and clothing signal not only belonging and self-assuredness but also transcendence. Connell, on the other hand, has been depressed in Marianne’s absence and has lost joy in the normal things he believes should have made him happy. He has a hard time making friends at Trinity, and he feels intellectually and socioeconomically inferior to his classmates. Without the circle of friends who dominated his time in Carricklea, Connell is now free to spend most of his time reading, and his passion for literature now grows and consumes him. Connell’s exploration of stories helps him understand human nature and allows him to develop a better understanding of how people share intimacy. In this role reversal, both Marianne and Connell are reinventing themselves and shedding the former identities they developed under the constraints and limitations of their small-town childhoods.

Rooney also develops the abuse hinted at in previous chapters as she reveals more details of Marianne’s home life in Carricklea and the roots of her self-esteem issues. Alan isn’t in school anymore, but he becomes obsessed with finding out the final scores of Marianne’s graduating classmates in the hopes that he’ll find out someone has done better than she has. Though Marianne has scored an impressive 590, he takes joy in diminishing her great accomplishments when he discovers that Connell has earned a top score of 600. When he can’t get an emotional reaction out of Marianne, his forceful jabbing at her with the phone is a successful attempt to physically hurt her. Marianne’s mother is emotionally abusive as well. Though she can see her daughter’s suffering and depression when Marianne is humiliated and refuses to go back to school, she punishes Marianne by preparing meals for her and then throwing them in the garbage before she can eat them. Marianne’s resultant loss of appetite and disinterest in nourishing herself indicates that she is developing an eating disorder. In the midst of Marianne’s abuse, Lorraine surfaces as a figure of emotional support though she is not present enough to bear witness to it, or to intervene. Though Marianne does her best to stay quiet and avoid her family, they find ways to hurt her that will cause lasting damage.