Sharp Objects

by

Gillian Flynn

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Sharp Objects: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Camille leaves Jackie’s house, still reeling from the information she’s just received. She wonders whether Adora was ever sick as a child—or whether Marian was truly sick throughout her own childhood. She wonders, too, about Amma’s “sicknesses”—she is uncertain of whether Amma is really sick and in need of Adora’s medicine, or if the medicine is what’s making Amma sick in the first place. She wonders about her own sickness this morning—whether Adora’ blue pill made her vomit, or lessened the effects she would’ve felt without it.
Camille has been confronted with the idea that Adora purposefully killed Marian, and is seeking to kill—or at least incapacitate—both her and Amma, too. This information is almost too horrible to fully accept, and Camille begins second-guessing everything she has learned, wondering whether anything she’s ever taken to be true is in fact a lie.
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille wants to call Richard, but is unsure of what to tell him. As she drives through town, she finds herself heading for a bar at the edge of town, near the hog farm. There, she finds a clearly-intoxicated John Keene. When she asks how he’s doing, he replies that he’s afraid both that Meredith will leave him and that he’ll soon be arrested for two murders he didn’t commit.
Camille is seeking solace, though she doesn’t really know how to find any. When she drives herself out to the dangerous part of town and finds John Keene, she encounters another exhausted, terrified soul—and a kindred spirit.
Themes
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John tells Camille she’s the only one who understands him, and asks her about her own dead sister—whether she’s gotten over it, and how one moves on. Camille admits that she has been “ruined” by Marian’s death, and feels relief at being able to say so. John tells Camille that he didn’t kill Natalie, and she tells him that she already knows. John takes Camille’s hand and tells her that she’s beautiful.
John and Camille find themselves drawn together through the sadness and loss they both share. Having both lost sisters, they are both victims of an isolating and indescribable pain—as they bond over that pain, an attraction begins to form.
Themes
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
In the parking lot, John fumbles with his keys, but then realizes he is too drunk to drive. Camille, who is not much more sober, drives John back to Meredith’s but once they get there, John asks her to take him to a nearby motel. Camille obliges, and even pays for the room—inside, she hands John a cup of water, and he spots one of the scars on her wrists. He takes her arm and rolls her sleeve up despite her protests; once he sees a scar that reads “weary,” he admits he feels the same, and asks to see them all.
Though Camille knows that a dalliance with John is wrong, they have been brought together by pain—and when he, in the motel room, at last sees the depths of her pain, he does not shy away from it, but longs to understand it better.
Themes
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
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John pulls Camille’s clothes off, and reads her scars word by word. He touches and kisses them, and soon he and Camille begin having sex. It is the first time in fourteen years that she has allowed a man to see her body.
Camille has spent years rejecting her sexuality and femininity, but in John’s arms, she feels seen, accepted, and understood.
Themes
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Early the next morning, there is a knock at the door. Chief Vickery’s voice calls from the other side—he asks if Camille is inside and demands she open up. Camille and John begin dressing frantically. When Camille opens the door, Vickery is there—and so is Richard. As he surveys the situation, he glares at Camille and tells her that Adora put in a call when Camille failed to come home for the night. Richard offers to take John home, but John says he’d like for Camille to take him. As Richard and Vickery walk away, Camille shouts after Richard, promising to call him later—Richard simply waves a hand over his shoulder.
Camille and Richard never declared themselves in a relationship, or even exclusive, so what she’s done with John doesn’t count, necessarily, as cheating—but she has still deceived and clearly hurt Richard, and she longs desperately to make things better.
Themes
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Camille drops John off at his parents’ house, and he tells her that she “saved” him. Camille tells John that he made her feel safe, too, and is surprised to find that she means it. Camille drives back to Main Street and goes into the police station, where she finds Richard and begins attempting to “deny deny deny.” Richard, though, can see through her lies, and warns her that her sleeping with John looks bad for both of them. In order to apologize, Camille gets down on her knees and begins unzipping Richard’s pants, but he tells her that “that won’t do it,” and kisses her gently before asking her to leave.
Camille is so used to subjugating herself in order to attain any scrap of affection that she tries to make things right with Richard through a sexual act which involves her servicing him—Richard, sensing at last just how damaged Camille is, rejects her advance but makes it clear that he’s not angry, and that there’s nothing she needs to do to prostrate herself before him.
Themes
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Camille naps in her car for a few hours—she is terrified to return home to Adora’s house. She decides that she’ll try to continue working on her story, even in her disheveled and miserable state. She drives to her old friend Katie Lacey’s house—Katie is an aide at the grade school, and helped out in both Ann and Natalie’s classes. Katie greets Camille happily and serves her sweet tea, making no mention of Camille’s harried appearance. She offers to make Camille some lunch, but Camille gets right down to business asking questions about Ann and Natalie’s history of violence. Katie reveals that Ann once stabbed Natalie in the cheek with a sewing needle, but that there didn’t seem to be a reason behind the attack—“those two […] didn’t need a reason to strike out,” Katie says.
Camille’s fear of returning home turns into motivation to continue uncovering more pieces of the larger puzzle plaguing Wind Gap. In interviewing Katie, she learns more about Ann and Natalie’s violence—and is surprised to find that their violent streaks often turned them against one another. Their anger and uncontainable desire to harm others was common knowledge in town—and a source of strain in their friendship with one another.
Themes
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Katie begins reminiscing about her and Camille’s own high school years—and the way they bullied their less-popular classmates. Katie remarks that Amma is even worse than the two of them were in high school—she and her three friends “rule the school,” and Amma is their ringleader. They force other girls into sex, and humiliate their female classmates for being fat, flat-chested, or anything in-between; anything not perfect. Camille is shocked to hear the depths of Amma’s cruelty, and is even more upset when Katie reveals that “Amma fucked with Ann and Natalie a lot.”
Camille’s interview with Katie lets her know that not only were Ann and Natalie violent to one another, but that Amma, too, is cultivating a kind of violent dominance which mirrors Adora’s. Everything is connected, somehow, and as Camille struggles to put the disparate threads of the case together, she is horrified by the depths of cruelty and deception that run throughout her family.
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
As Camille heads for home after interviewing Katie, she can’t stop flashing from image to image of Adora—all ominous ones. She imagines her mother trying to “tend” to Ann and Natalie the way she tended to Marian and Amma—and though Camille tells herself that she’s “crazy” to think what she’s thinking, she also knows she’d be crazy not to.
In light of all the information she has uncovered from Jackie and Katie, Camille is nearly certain of the truth: her mother is a killer, and would perhaps even kill for vengeance rather than attention.
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon