Four Months Later (July 2014), Five Minutes Later (July 2014), & Seven Months Later (February 2015)

Summary: Four Months Later (July 2014)

For the first time since Marianne started at Trinity, she is living at home over the summer. Connell has a job in the college library but comes home every weekend. Recently, he and Marianne participated in a Dublin street protest together. During the drive back to Carricklea, Connell told her, matter-of-factly, that he loved her.

Marianne is watching an evening soccer broadcast with Connell in his bedroom. She tells him that his behavior at the club the night before bothered her. While they were dancing, she wanted him to kiss her, but he left to go have a smoke. Connell describes the incident as a misunderstanding and talks about how their relationship has been good for him. Hurt by his detached attitude, Marianne prepares to leave. Connell finally does kiss her, which leads to sex, but when Marianne asks Connell to hit her, he refuses. Feeling rejected and worthless, Marianne gets dressed and insists on walking home. As Marianne enters her house, Alan confronts her: he has heard about her relationship with Connell. When Alan follows Marianne upstairs and violently pushes open her bedroom door, it strikes Marianne in the face, breaking her nose.

Summary: Five Minutes Later (July 2014)

Minutes after Marianne leaves, Lorraine comes home. Having heard that a girlfriend of Connell’s from years ago is now pregnant, Lorraine questions Connell about his relationship with Marianne. He assures her that Marianne is not pregnant, but that if she were, he would not be the father. He does not know what else to say. When Marianne left, Connell stayed in his room and cried. He feels trapped, and the antidepressants he is taking do not change that. He has a power over Marianne that no one else does, and at the same time, she holds the only part of him he cares about. Yet their relationship, he thinks, has brought only confusion and misery.

Marianne calls: she has “tripped or something” and is injured. She accepts Connell’s offer to come over. Meeting her at the door and seeing Alan in the background, Connell realizes what happened, sends Marianne to wait in his car, and tells Alan that if he says anything bad to Marianne ever again, Connell will kill him. Alan, now scared and crying, says he understands. In the car, Connell promises Marianne he will not let something like that happen to her again.

Summary: Seven Months Later (February 2015)

Connell has overnighted at Marianne’s. As she brings him coffee in the morning, he apologizes for getting drunk the night before. Last year, a story of his was published in the campus literary magazine. This year, Connell is the editor. Sadie, who published Connell’s story the year before and shows more than a friendly interest in him, brought vodka punch to the launch party for the new issue. Connell drank so much punch that Marianne had to take him home and put him to bed.

As Marianne prepares to take a shower, she asks Connell about Sadie. He denies being interested in her, but he told Sadie something he has not shared with Marianne, namely that he applied to an MFA program in creative writing at a university in New York. When Marianne comes out of the shower, Connell is reading an email informing him that he has been accepted. Now he has to decide whether to go. Connell claims not to want to leave Marianne, but when he acknowledges that Sadie knows about the application, Marianne understands that Connell is, once again, feeling the need to break away from her. Soon, Connell begins to sound less sure of himself. He does not know what to do, he says, but will stay if Marianne wants him to. “You should go,” she replies. “I’ll always be here. You know that.”

Analysis: Four Months Later (July 2014), Five Minutes Later (July 2014), & Seven Months Later (February 2015)

In these final chapters, the use of abuser-as-victim mentality surfaces as the cycle of violence in Marianne’s family comes to an end. When Marianne moves home for the summer, she is once again under Alan’s thumb as he stalks her throughout the family home. He uses manipulative rhetoric in his claims that he only wants to talk to Marianne, and that he can’t understand why she’s scared of him and thinks of him as a terrible person. His belief that he is trying to be nice to her and she is throwing it in his face reveals his own mental illness. Ironically, in his final episode of violence toward his sister, Alan insults both Marianne and Connell with accusations of mental illness. His use of victim mentality continues as he claims he’s done nothing wrong after throwing a glass bottle at her. When he bursts through her door and breaks her nose, he sarcastically asks if she’s going to blame him for her injury as well. When Connell threatens to kill Alan if he ever hurts Marianne again, Alan’s tears disclose his true cowardice. Marianne’s emancipation from her family is evident the following Christmas, which she spends at Connell’s house. In a text message, Alan uses their mother as a scapegoat to deliver his final insults. The truth of her mother’s feelings becomes apparent, however, when she ignores Marianne and the Waldrons in the supermarket on New Year’s Eve. On the cusp of a new start for all, Marianne has finally achieved an invisibility that is healthy and safe.

The power that love has to bring about positive change presents as a thematic ebb and flow throughout the story’s conclusion. In spending time with Joanna and Evelyn, Marianne feels as if she is viewing the power of love as a trapped person looking outward. Connell’s simple yet somewhat distant declaration of love for her causes a shift in their dynamic and opens up their communication. Their discussions lead to cleared-up misunderstandings and honest revelations, even when they are painful ones, and for the first time Connell is able to vocalize his anxieties without letting them consume him. Though Marianne acknowledges his power over her and willingly submits to him, Connell sets boundaries by denying her request for violence. The rejection causes Marianne to question her own power and worth, and Connell feels like a tyrant who can’t save her but would die for her because protecting her is the most essential thing he can do. Connell’s intervention with Alan becomes a catalyst for normalcy. His public kiss and declaration of love at midnight on New Year’s Eve finally defines their relationship and solidifies their bond. Marianne’s submission of her own need for independence and encouragement of Connell’s pursuit of a career is both mature and tender once she feels worthy of love. Both characters find contentment and harmony in the powers they have nurtured in one another.