Sharp Objects

by

Gillian Flynn

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Sharp Objects: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Camille wakes up with bedsheets sheets stuck to her body. She is covered in her own sweat and urine. She feels feverish and weak, and immediately reaches for the trash can beside her bed to vomit into it. Adora comes into the room and ushers Camille into the bathtub, calling her “baby” as she strips her naked.
Though Camille is in a disgusting, miserable state, Adora continues fawning over her lovingly, clearly enjoying witnessing her daughter’s pain as it gives Adora the chance to enact her own fantasies of herself as a good, doting mother.
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 pulls herself into the tub she vomits again. Adora wets a towel with rubbing alcohol and wipes Camille’s body down. Camille sinks into the bath, letting Adora pour cool water over her head and feed her more pills and milk. Camille defiantly takes all of Adora’s medicine, wanting things to be “vicious.” Things begin to blur as Camille’s condition worsens—she cannot stop vomiting, and is faintly aware of Adora applying ice packs to her head and shoulders, and picking at the wound on her ankle with tweezers and rubbing alcohol. As she begins losing consciousness, Camille’s thoughts run together: she feels grateful to at last be “cared for” and mothered.
Even at the height of her misery, there is a part of Camille that, in spite of everything, relishes the attention. Camille sinks under Adora’s control for the first time in her life, and despite all of the pain and sickness it is causing her, she feels just a tiny bit of ecstasy at the brand-new feeling of being “mothered.”
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille awakens to the sound of screams some time later, sitting in a half-full bath of lukewarm water. Camille pulls herself out of the tub and wraps herself into a robe just as Richard Willis busts in through the door, asking Camille if she’s okay. As he stares at Camille’s scars, Camille can see a war between laughter and fear on his face. Adora’s screams echo up from downstairs, and Camille asks what’s wrong with Adora. Richard asks if Camille is sick, and she says that she is. She asks if he found anything, and he says that he has, before explaining that everyone needs to leave the house. Richard offers to take Camille to the doctor, and she says that she hopes she has “enough poison left in [her.]”
As Richard bursts in on Adora’s sick, twisted fantasy, he sees the depths of her abuse—and the effects, new and old, it has had on Camille. Richard seems completely shocked by everything he’s encountered at the Crellins’ and unable to fully process what’s happening: he is only able to focus on work, and what results in service of the investigation might be drawn out of Camille. 
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
By later that evening, the police have removed from Adora’s lingerie drawer eight vials of illegal anti-malarial pills, seventy-two tablets of industrial-grade laxatives commonly used on farm animals, three dozen anti-seizure tablets, three bottles of ipecac, and one hundred and sixty one horse tranquilizers. Traces of all of these medications were found in Camille’s toxicology test.
As Camille outlines just how dangerous the toxins Adora was pouring into her, Amma, and Marian, it becomes clear that Adora’s only regard was for herself—her children were simply tools.
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
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Police also discover a diary in Adora’s hatbox, dating back to 1982. The diary’s entries reveal Adora’s decision to “focus on Marian,” and Marian’s ensuing sicknesses. Adora describes bribing hospital nurses in order to keep them from finding out the truth, and also depicts how “kind” and “wonderful” everyone in town acts towards her in the days following Marian’s death—which only occurred because Adora admittedly “couldn’t stop.”
Adora admits, in the pages of her diary, to feeding off the attention others gave her. The feeling—which she never experienced in her youth due to her own abusive mother—was so intoxicating that she could not stop herself from continuing the abuse, even when it cost her the life of her daughter.
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
The most important piece of evidence police find is a stained pair of pliers shoved under the cushion of a love seat in Adora’s room. DNA tests match the trace blood on the tool to both Ann and Natalie. The teeth, however, are not found anywhere in the house, and though Camille begs the police to continue searching the grounds and Adora’s rose garden for them, they do not turn up anywhere.
Though the pliers seem to indict Adora beyond any shadow of a doubt, the absence of the teeth—and the question of where someone like Adora, who kept an easily-discoverable cache of toxic potions, could have put them—disturbs Camille.
Themes
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon