Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wither, Ch18

Last time on why isn’t this done yet, Rhine was annoying and the book hated women more.

Rhine and the rapist are going on a walk.

He and I are hand in hand through the sleepy winter wonderland that the orange grove has become. Everything around us is white and deeper white, and a path has been carved for us through snowdrifts as high as my head. I didn’t know winter could be so extreme this far south.

I swear it’s like the author is mocking me.

The rapist comments on how well she gets along with Jenna.

“She’s my sister,” I say

I just spend a while googling and can’t find any sign this is another Mormon author, or any other explanation for what the fuck is with the book’s obsession with this.

In the ten months we’ve been here, Jenna has held on to her resentment for her imprisonment and the murder of her sisters. I can’t blame her.

It’s amazing how good the book is at minimizing things. Kidnapping, murder and imprisonment are not things you need to work at to stay angry over. Feeling this way is not a character flaw that you magnanimously don’t blame the person for.

Rhine then says that it’s lucky because Jenna’s could be a rival if she wanted to.

she is very compassionate and loyal when you aren’t responsible for the murder of her family.

No shit, Rhine.

While Rhine has spent much of the book being stupid, self-centered and cruel, I think this is a new apologist low for her.

The rapist says that Jenna did talk to him the last night, in addition to all the not consensual sex because she’s only doing it out of fear they had. She told him Rhine was stressed about the baby and being stuck inside all the time to convince him to give her a keycard to get out. It’s unclear if Jenna would still act like this if she knew the shit Rhine was saying in her internal monologue. Possibly. Considering the short lifespan of women in this, it’s likely one of Jenna’s sisters was Rhine’s age.

It’s happening. I’m becoming first wife!

Rhine. No.

She attempts to say she means that being first wife means being trusted so she’ll get out, but it’s obviously bullshit because if escaping was really her first priority, her first thought would be “I can use this to escape!” not “This means I’m most important! …and I can use that to escape too, I guess.”

Rhine is deliriously thankful that her owner has installed a cat door, so she hugs him and then they kiss. She talks about how he looks like an innocent little boy unlike his jerkface evil mad scientist father, because we can never skip a chance to talk about how sweet the rapist is.

She then tries to find Jenna to tell her, but can’t find her, so…she uses her new freedom and key card to hang out in the library on the wives’ floor for the rest of the day, because why escape now that she’s got her own little kitty door and such a pretty golden collar?

Apparently Cecily’s at eight months now and can barely walk. She’s having horrible back pain.

The attendant offers to bring a dinner tray to her in bed, but she says, “Don’t be stupid. I’m having dinner with my husband like everybody else.”

This obviously means she’s an obnoxious brat who’s never happy with anything and not that she really wants to spend time with him despite how uncomfortable she is. I mean, she called him stupid! A thirteen year old being rude? Unbelievable.

Jenna’s there at dinner already and looks like hell. Rhine says Jenna was nineteen last month. I’m going to just assume dates line up here, though I wouldn’t be surprised if an actual attempt to keep a timeline showed errors left and right.

Anyway, this means the rapist is having increasingly kinky sex in an attempt to knock up someone who’ll be dead in eleven months. Even if evil mad scientist could keep her alive an extra few months like Rose, she’ll be extremely sick and in no condition to gestate or nurse a child.

And I asked her to run away with me when I formulate a plan

The first decent thing Rhine’s done all chapter. But Jenna refuses. She’s already established that she doesn’t care because her whole family’s dead and she’ll be dead soon too.

Even if her body becomes one of Vaughn’s experiments, she doesn’t care.


Rhine snarks that Cecily must really be feeling sick because she hasn’t bitched about Rhine’s keycard. Because Rhine is terrible. Then she starts feeling concerned…for secondary love interest, because clearly he’s the one in danger here.

Jenna knocks the boiled carrots around with her fork. Vaughn tells her to eat something, and his voice is so frightening despite his smile that she does.

Despite the fact that Rhine’s reaction to evil mad scientist seems completely nonsensical to me, all evidence in the book is that it’s everyone’s reaction. This makes me feel bad for evil mad scientist. Imagine if every time you tried to talk to people about anything, they reacted like you were threatening to murder everyone in the room. It’s probably why he likes Cecily so much, she doesn’t treat him a giant pile of vipers.

When they go back to their home cage, Rhine thanks Jenna for the key. Because as I said, we must always be reminded of what a nice person the rapist is, she says he already wanted to and he was just waiting for a push.

You’ve already got him convinced you adore him. You do such a good job that I’m almost convinced myself.”
My fondness for Linden isn’t entirely an act, but I don’t know how to explain my feelings for him when I don’t even understand them myself

Rhine, I’m pretty sure what she meant was that she’d already noticed this and was trying to be diplomatic regarding the fact you’re making out with a rapist.

Also, your feelings are because you are stupid and horrible and instinctively gravitate to whoever is the most powerful and privileged to claim that they’re the real victim here. Stockholm can only explain so much. You are just like this. It is your nature, and it is terrible.

Proving my point that Jenna knows she’s in love with the rapist, she immediately moves on to remind her of comparatively less objectionable secondary love interest. Jenna, being competent in addition to kind and smart and not prone to making excuses for rapists, easily found out what happened to him by the amazing process of fucking asking someone Rhine you are so fucking useless you know that.

Gabriel wasn’t called to the basement, it turns out. He’s been reassigned there instead. Jenna attempts to point out that plenty of servants work in the basement. Rhine wails about how it’s all her fault.

Here’s the thing – even if it’s because of them making out, all the guy did was make it so the boy she was making out with is no longer delivering her food with an excuse to spend hours up in her room alone. That is an incredibly mild reaction under the circumstances, and not at all what you’d expect from someone we’re told is evil.

Jenna interrupts Rhine’s whining to say that she was caught while trying to verify this herself and so she’s probably not going to be let out again. But she says she can still distract them long enough for Rhine to get to the basement herself, just so Rhine can see he’s alive and okay.

“You’d do that?” I say.
She smiles, and for once she looks strikingly like Rose smiling on her death bed. “Sure,” she says. “What have I got to lose?”

Rhine is for once observant, and realizes that Jenna must have something to lose if she’s scared of evil mad scientist. She asks what he did. Jenna says nothing. Rhine realizes she knows way too much about what’s in the basement since they’ve only been there once and didn’t see any of the things she mentions. Jenna repeats that he did nothing.

“Tell me what he did,” I cry, forgetting the low voice I’ve been using. “What did he do to you?”
“Nothing!” she cries back. “It’s what he’s going to do to you. He knows you tried to run once, and he expects me to convince you to stay, but I’m trying to help you, so just shut up and let me!”

So – yes, Rhine probably reminds her a lot of one of her dead sisters. This is beyond being a nice person and well into trying to help someone as a proxy for failing the others.

Jenna storms out.

The hologram in the fireplace winces.

…This is our ending line, and I’ve no idea what it means. The next chapter isn’t Rhine going holy fuck the hologram reacted we’re being spied on! or anything, it’s her getting a massage. Maybe the idea is just Jenna slammed the door so hard it made the power flicker.

Well. We are now two thirds through this book. There are nine more chapters to go.


Andrea Harris said...

 Snow. Snow snow snow snow snow. In Florida. "Drifts higher than our heads."

No, sorry. Not even in the middle of North Florida on the Alabama/Georgia border in the middle of the f**king forests they have there is this anything like possible. Anytime it snows that far south it's the sort of snowfall that is of short duration and melts right away. Freezes are common from Central Florida up -- a big deal every winter is protecting the orange groves from freezes -- but winters tend to be dry, and thus, snow is very rare.

I wonder what the author thinks she is doing. She can't be that ignorant, so maybe she's setting up an apocalyptic oh-now-the-Ice-Age-is-coming scenario, only you'd think that a major topic of conversation would be how weird the weather is. But from the excerpts you've provided, it seems like people take it in stride, as if there was nothing wrong with huge snowfalls in the subtropics. Maybe it's going to be that this is all some sort of fucked up dream or experiment, and Rhine isn't in "Florida" at all.

Andrea Harris said...

 I looked up the author! Here's this from her bio: "Lauren DeStefano was born in New Haven, Connecticut and has never traveled far from the east coast." Okay yeah but the internet exists. I don't -- I've got nothing. Really, it makes no sense, this "Florida" place in her book.

Farla said...

The problem is she spent so much time on how unlike most kids, Rhine knows a lot about how the world used to be. Also, Rhine keeps referencing the idea that Florida is warm year round like we do, and you'd think people would stop thinking of it that way once it starts getting snowed in every winter.

Also people should comment on how there are no oranges to eat. Whatever those trees are, they're not producing the fruit we eat. Depending on how much of Mexico was included in "North America", orange trees may be functionally extinct if the climate's shifted so much.

Colme said...

Does Connecticut even get that much snow? Even up here in Ontario we've only been getting lightly dusted in the dead of winter.

Farla said...

Colder places can get less snow because the air's too dry. Connecticut gets decent snowfall, though I don't know how often they get towering drifts.

purplekitte said...

Even there, I doubt it's that common. There's some snow on the ground most of the winter, but the real towering drifts are really disruptive even in regions used to snowfall and when they happen, like the Snowmageddon two years ago, it really disrupts things. Though admittedly I've spent more time in Pennsylvania than Connecticut.

Now in north Texas, the game at universities is to watch all the kids from further south run around awed because they've never seen snow before, while those from Dallas can be blase about the half an inch of icy snow that we get every other year or so. And everything will close for a snow day.

Andrea Harris said...

 Incidentally we just had a nice snowfall yesterday here in Virginia. Of course it's sunny and expected to go up into the forties today so it will be gone in another day or two, but it was the first respectable snowfall we've had since what, October? It's been a warm, wet winter. Last year was cold and windy, but dry, so there was little snow. And the previous year was the big snow that made such a mess.

But it still didn't snow in Florida.

Donna @ Bites said...

As a Connecticut native it's rare that we get that kind of snow up here.  That's usually reserved for the lake effect regions out in western New York.  Last year was an exception where we probably averaged about a foot and a half of snow a week, wherein I wanted to jump head first into a drift and smother myself.  I looked up to snow piles in my own driveway.  But like our nonexistent snow this year (less than a foot all winter not counting the small apocalypse we got back on Halloween) that much snow is an anomaly.  It's even rarer in New Haven, that gets traditionally even less snow because it's on the water.  If we're scheduled to get a foot in central CT, New Haven usually tops out at about 4 inches.  This is basically just the author being an idiot.  She should know better and chose not to.

Donna Sirianni said...

It's yet another author getting away with doing fuck all for research.  Watching Life After People would have given her a better idea of what could happen to the planet but even that's asking too much, apparently.

Donna Sirianni said...

I can't help but wonder why someone as old as Jenna would get chosen in the first place.  Seems kind of counter productive to take someone less than 2 years away from death to try and get her to conceive.  You'd think, in order to maximize baby numbers, all the girls would be around Cecily's age, just this side of pubescent or not quite there yet.  Maximum number of potential pregnancies for childbearing years.  One would also probably need more wives because based on the stress Cecily's body is going through they won't survive very many pregnancies.  Since Vaughn wants an obvious baby factor.

But wait, this makes sense, whereas the book doesn't.  Nevermind Rhine should have been considered a hag at 16 and shot with the rest of them.  She has sooper speshul eyes and wins the world.

Farla said...

Well, considering she's only going to live to twenty, it's quite possible for someone starting at thirteen to manage, say, five pregnancies relatively safely.

Personally, I'd expect that you should have some sort of shared childrearing, where the thirteen year olds get pregnant, the older ones care for the resulting kid, then when they die, the now older mother cares for the older kid and adopts the baby of another thirteen year old. As you say, even Rhine's too old - she'll only have three years to actually raise the kid if she gets pregnant immediately, and if she tries to have two to manage baseline replacement numbers, she'll probably be dying right after the second pregnancy.

Eva Rinaldi said...

Nah, the point of a harem is that you don't have to pick just one girl to rape. So he has Cecily to give him lots of babies, and Rhine as a super special replacement Rose goldfish, and Jenna as his experienced older girl who has waton sex with him. Isn't that every man's fantasy, minus the raping little girls part?