I have gained weight and my underwire is poking into my boobs. It's very uncomfortable, and yet, I'm ever so grateful that I have a bra at all, unlike Cathy.
Cathy is waxing poetic about love, as many people have done throughout history. It's raining. The twins are watching TV. Chris and Cathy are laying on the old mattress in the attic, reading a book that their mother brought up from the downstairs library. They argue over each other's reading style.
The book they are reading is likely made up for the novel. It's a book about star-crossed lovers who are looking for purple grass that they are already standing on. Because of the romantic nature of this book, and the unhappy ending, Cathy slams it shut and hurls it at a wall. She then rages out at her brother. He neckbeards at her about symbolism and they launch into a rather strange discussion and misplaced discussion about "romantic trash" literature, sexism in writing, and sexuality. During this exchange, we are reminded that Cathy has a bosom. Over her bosom, she is wearing white leotards (which she is wearing in a presumably filthy dusty attic, and washing in a bathtub, so while they are described as white, I'm going to picture them as dull grey with shiny spots from overwearing.) Over her leotards (more than one?) she has a short wool skirt and a wool cardigan. Great. I dress exactly like Cathy Dollanger, but I wear black instead of white. And my wool skirt is plaid. They kiss. Eyes meld and held. There is nervous laughter. The New Yorker has a piece about this book and chapter, and I recommend it. Cathy decides that she is a sour lemon, contaminating Chris, who is a "barrel of good."
She decides that to make him feel "manly" she needs to give him a haircut. Holy gender roles! She says that "right now, your hair is long and pretty, like mine" and he disagrees that Cathy's hair is pretty, and says maybe it was, before the tarring. Way to make your sister feel great, Chris. Is this part of that negging thing I read about?
We learn that Chris is sleeping with a lock of Cathy's hair. It's just sort of mentioned, as though it's a perfectly normal thing. I'm not sure if this book is discussing that like it's normal as an intentional part of Cathy's narration and the general fucked-up-ness of their lives, or if VC Andrews thinks it's somehow romantic.
Then one day I caught him sitting in the attic sunshine, holding the long lengths of cut-off hair in his hands. He'd sniffed, then put it to his cheek, then to his lips, and then he hid it away in a box to keep under his pillow.
Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew Ew.
Chris tell her again that he's never said her hair was pretty. She rubs his cheek and thinks about how he needs to shave.
Neither Cathy, nor Carrie have had their hair trimmed since they came to Foxworth Attic. Now Cathy is claiming that only the top of hers had been snipped off to signify submission to "a mean old woman made of steel." Which makes me question again the whole "tarring" chapter, but whatever.
A line from VC Andrews pops up here.
Had any brunette ever been locked away in a turret — if an attic could be considered a turret?
I have to admit, I'm always a little worried about hair-cutting scenes, ever since "The Color Purple." I don't think I would cut anyone's hair, but especially not a man's. How weird is that? It seems so oddly intimate, before we get to the fact that I will likely associate it with rape for the rest of my life. Fortunately I live in a world where anyone can pop on down and get a haircut by someone with a license and not expect me to mangle up their hair. For now. Gilead could still happen.
Chris's hair hangs below his shoulders, she tries not to take too much. Cathy uses a silver backed mirror with her initials to show him her work. Apparently, she received a sterling silver set of a brush, mirror, and comb for her last birthday. She has to hide it from the Grandmother, of course.
Chris thinks he looks like Prince Valiant. Which. Um.
He calls her "Catherine Doll" which is creepy, because the whole "Dresden Dolls thing" is creepy to me. She says Prince Valiant should be lucky to look like him, and I probably agree. Then she lays it on reeeeel think with a "handsome, manly, blond brother"
OK, VC, you can go to the salon and become blonde if that's what you want. It's OK.
Chris "pounces" and chases her about the attic, threatening to cut her hair. If she gave him the haircut above, I can see why he wants revenge.
This leads to her tripping and him stabbing her with the scissors. How do you not know that running with scissors is a no-no? Ask your mom for some more up-to-date medical journals or something. Never mind. I'm sure the medical journals at the time were still spouting the benefits of cigarettes. Then again, maybe cigarettes would be preferable to arsenic donuts.
Chris goes and gets medical supplies, Cathy worries about her sweater. I get you, Cathy, for once.
After patching her up, he leans over her, gazing into her eyes, seriously and intense. She is "in thrall," which is a word that means "a servant or captive" but in this case means "the state of being in someone's power." Which is gross. LIke this book.
She sees the suffering in her captor's eyes, which are kaleidoscopic and rainbowed. She draws his head down to her breast as she has seen her mother do??? WTF
He then BLAMES HER - "why did you run? Because you ran, I had to chase. I was only teasing. I wouldn't cut one strand from your head; it was just something to do, to have fun. And you were wrong when you said I thought your hair was pretty. It's more than just pretty. I think you may grow on your head the most glorious hair in the world."
I'll leave that and allow you to make your own connections to the real world and the "it was a joke" excuse.
The lay there, with Chris on her bare breast, she pretends to not notice him stroking it. He kisses her nipple. She wonders why it feels so strange and thinks about the romance novel they read together. She says "I can't imagine them doing what comes next" (breathlessly, of course.)
He wonders if Cathy knows what comes next. She does, "sort of." She asks him the same question. He laughs, and says he learned at school, in the boy's restroom.
Me? I don't think about girls, or sex, though I wish to God you weren't so damned pretty! And it would help if you weren't always so near, and so available.
I wonder what their relationship would be like if their father hadn't died and they attended school like normal. Chris would probably grow up and be a know-it-all condescending doctor who dismisses women's pain. Cathy would likely be rather self-centered and superficial. But also, their lifestyle was likely unsustainable regardless, so I wonder if there would be some hard truths in their future? Perhaps lots of sibling fights where he makes fun of her and she makes fun of him.
She says "you do think i'm pretty" and he moans, sits up, and stares down at her breasts. She cut off the tops of the too-small (white) leotards so he sees too much. He fastens her sweater, reminds her that she is his sister and that's weird and wrong, and reminds her that they need to check on the twins. They talk about sin.
Cory is playing on his banjo because that's a super quiet activity that no one in the house will notice. Carrie sings, Chris plays guitar. We've got a family band in the attic! They sing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" together without actually saying the name of the song because song rights.
Cory mentions that Mamma never noticed Cory's pet mouse and wonders why. Everyone is sad. Chris "brightly" explains the "new husband" aspect of her relationship. I wonder if "not telling your husband about your four minor children from a previous husband" is grounds for an annulment, because if not, Bart is really being screwed here.
Cory calls Cathy out about the blood on her shirt, they lie about it being paint. Chris says, and I am not joking, "I want to look at TV while Cathy prepares dinner." and then orders her to put on a clean shirt.
That night, Cathy thinks a lot about sex and love, and she decides that what she sees in his eyes makes her aroused. It takes five paragraphs to come to that conclusion, including some thinking about sin and the grandmother.