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After end-of-term exams, Connell moved back home for the summer. He and Marianne are no longer together, because he wanted to see other people—or at least, that is what Marianne thought he meant. Marianne felt like a fool, after telling everyone what a sensitive, intelligent person he was. Joanna, who is more thoughtful than any of Marianne’s other friends, puzzled earnestly over Connell’s behavior. Now Marianne is in Carricklea to attend a special Mass on the anniversary of her father’s death. While grocery shopping, Marianne runs into Connell and Lorraine, who after some polite conversation offer her a ride home. Connell drops Lorraine off at their house and then drives Marianne to hers. On the way, as Marianne and Connell talk, she apologizes for ignoring his messages and tells him she is dating Jamie, whom Connell remembers beating at pool five months ago. Connell declines to come into the house when dropping Marianne off, but tells her he plans to be at the Mass the next morning.
Connell’s end-of-term move back home was set in motion when his work hours were reduced. Because he could not afford to pay his share of the rent over the summer, he wanted to ask Marianne if he could stay with her. His roommate, Niall, had already said that Connell’s room would still be there when Connell came back. However, Connell had always felt self-conscious about his financial circumstances compared to Marianne’s. When Connell told Marianne about having to move out of his apartment, she assumed he was going back home. Because she responded so coolly, he did not contradict her. Instead, he said, awkwardly, that she would probably want to see other people—a remark Marianne interpreted as reflecting his desire to do so. Connell was miserable afterward, and he continued to be miserable all summer. The night after the Mass for Marianne’s father, Connell got so drunk that when he met his old economics teacher, Miss Neary, he could barely fend off her advances.
At a coffee shop, Connell and Marianne catch up. She explains that a few weeks after Connell left for the summer, she started dating Jamie, whose family is extremely wealthy and whose father has made headlines with misdeeds in the world of finance. Marianne reveals to Connell that during sex, Jamie beats and chokes her. Jamie enjoys this practice, but it was Marianne’s idea. Connell is disturbed and frightened. Marianne tells him she likes knowing she is prepared to degrade herself for someone. She assures Connell that with Jamie, she is putting on an act, whereas for Connell, she really would do anything. Connell realizes that their friendship remains intact.
In these chapters, Rooney highlights a pointed miscommunication between Marianne and Connell by narrating the scene that caused their separation from each character’s point of view. In the July chapter, Rooney introduces Marianne and Connell’s breakup through Marianne perspective. Marianne believes that Connell moved home for the summer because he wanted to see other people. She feels foolish because she allowed Connell to stay at her apartment every night and drink the beer she had purchased for him only for him to repay her by dumping her. The apartment and beer are commodities furnished by her wealth, which she shared with him and now feels taken advantage of. Joanna serves as a potential bridge of communication when she encourages Marianne to describe exactly what was said during the breakup, though Marianne is unable to produce an answer. Instead she feels resentful and ignores Connell’s messages from home as she spends most of the summer in Dublin. In the September chapter, Rooney reveals Connell’s perspective. Connell wants to spend the summer living with Marianne in Dublin but is too hesitant to ask her outright because it would feel like he was asking her for money. When he tells Marianne he will have to move out of his apartment, he attempts to open the door for an offer to stay with her. Instead, Marianne abruptly assumes he is moving home for the summer. In Connell’s distress, he falters in stating that she will probably want to see other people. Both characters struggle with their emotions as Marianne agrees. Connell later assumes that Marianne wanted to get rid of him so she could procure a rich boyfriend instead of one she felt obligated to support. Like Joanna, Lorraine wisely suggests that perhaps he misinterpreted the events of the situation. This carefully constructed revelation of each character’s perspective highlights how their flawed communication has a major impact on the course of their lives.
These chapters also provide further details about how the fundamental socioeconomic differences between Marianne and Connell inform their characters and affect their lives. In a conversation with Joanna, Marianne reveals that she doesn’t believe in work because having a job means one is not making efforts to better humanity. She has the freedom to assert that time is more valuable than money, and that money is a human construct and therefore unreal, because she has never lacked money and therefore has constant access to the comforts it provides. She values the freedom to choose how to spend her time, yet she makes no effort to use her time to anyone’s benefit. She also fails to consider that Connell must work for everything he has. Connell, however, doesn’t talk to Marianne about money. He realizes that the wages Marianne’s mother pays Lorraine end up paying for some of his own needs including the things he buys for Marianne. Procuring and spending money is burdensome for Connell, while Marianne is free to spend money and forget about it. Connell has to adjust his life based on its constant flux, while Marianne’s life changes are motivated by her desires.
This section of the story highlights Marianne and Connell’s attempts to seek pleasure in discomfort or pain. When Connell attends the Mass for Marianne’s father, he is stricken by how painful it is to look at her, and he reflects on his tendency to fantasize about causing himself pain when he’s upset. Though he understands that this self-soothing mechanism is ultimately unsuccessful, his encounter with Miss Neary presents an opportunity to distract himself from the pain of losing Marianne. Miss Neary's attention has always made him uncomfortable, and during her attempted seduction and sexual assault, Connell is so uncomfortable that he wishes he could lose consciousness. In Marianne’s relationship with her sadist boyfriend Jamie, she also seeks pleasure in discomfort. Though the abusive sex is Marianne’s idea, she admits that she doesn’t enjoy it and questions if she wishes to punish herself for being a bad person. Marianne’s source of pleasure in her relationship with Jamie is the act of being submissive. Though she was naturally submissive to Connell, she now seeks to replace the loss of their comfortable dynamic with one in which she experiences physical pain as a great reward for feigned submission rather than emotional pain as a punishment for authentic submission. In losing their closeness, Marianne and Connell punish themselves by seeking unhealthy outlets for their emotional pain.