Sharp Objects

by

Gillian Flynn

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Camille’s deceased younger sister, Marian, was a sickly child with whom Camille nonetheless forged a close friendship. Marian died when she was young, leaving Camille devastated and traumatized. It is eventually revealed that Adora herself killed Marian, sickening her through years of poisoning as a result of Munchausen by Proxy syndrome. Throughout the novel, Camille’s memories of Marian resurface with increasing intensity, culminating in Camille eventually experiencing a vision of Marian telling her that it isn’t safe for her to be in Adora’s house any longer—a vision which Camille does not heed as she commits to exposing, once and for all, the truth of what her mother did to her sister.

Marian Crellin Quotes in Sharp Objects

The Sharp Objects quotes below are all either spoken by Marian Crellin or refer to Marian Crellin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Sharp Objects published in 2006.
Chapter 4 Quotes

Alan, Adora, and Amma were all gathered in the living room when I returned. The scene was startling, it was so much like the old days with Marian. Amma and my mother sat on the couch, my mother cradling Amma—in a woolen nightgown despite the heat—as she held an ice cube to her lips. My half sister stared up at me with blank contentment, then went back to playing with a glowing mahogany dinner table, exactly like the one in the next room, except that it was about four inches high.

“Nothing to worry about,” Alan said, looking up from a newspaper. “Amma’s just got the summer chills.”

I felt a shot of alarm, then annoyance: I was sinking back into old routines, about to run to the kitchen to heat some tea, just like I always did for Marian when she was sick. I was about to linger near my mother, waiting for her to put an arm around me, too. My mother and Amma said nothing. My mother didn’t even look up at me, just nuzzled Amma in closer to her, and cooed into her ear.

[…]

When I was a child, I remember my mother trying to prod me with ointments and oils, homemade remedies and homeopathic nonsense. I sometimes took the foul solutions, more often refused. Then Marian got sick, really sick, and Adora had more important things to do than coaxing me into swallowing wheat-germ extract. Now I had a pang: all those syrups and tablets she proffered, and I rejected. That was the last time I had her full attention as a mother. I suddenly wished I’d been easier.

Related Characters: Camille Preaker (speaker), Alan Crellin (speaker), Adora Crellin, Amma Crellin, Marian Crellin
Page Number: 58-59
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

As a child, I don’t remember ever telling Adora my favorite color, or what I’d like to name my daughter when I grew up. I don’t think she ever knew my favorite dish, and I certainly never padded down to her room in the early-morning hours, teary from nightmares. I always feel sad for the girl that I was, because it never occurred to me that my mother might comfort me. She has never told me she loved me, and I never assumed she did. She tended to me. She administrated me. Oh, yes, and one time she bought me lotion with vitamin E.

For a while I convinced myself that Adora’s distance was a defense constructed after Marian. But in truth, I think she’s always had more problems with children than she’d ever admit. I think, in fact, she hates them. There’s a jealousy, a resentfulness that I can feel even now, in my memory. At one point, she probably liked the idea of a daughter. When she was a girl, I bet she daydreamed of being a mother, of coddling, of licking her child like a milk-swelled cat. She has that voraciousness about children. She swoops in on them.

Related Characters: Camille Preaker (speaker), Adora Crellin, Marian Crellin
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

I have one memory that catches in me like a nasty clump of blood. Marian was dead about two years, and my mother had a cluster of friends come over for afternoon drinks. One of them brought a baby. For hours, the child was cooed over, smothered with red-lipstick kisses, tidied up with tissues, then lipstick smacked again. I was supposed to be reading in my room, but I sat at the top of the stairs watching.

My mother finally was handed the baby, and she cuddled it ferociously. Oh, how wonderful it is to hold a baby again! Adora jiggled it on her knee, walked it around the rooms, whispered to it, and I looked down from above like a spiteful little god, the back of my hand placed against my face, imagining how it felt to be cheek to cheek with my mother.

When the ladies went into the kitchen to help tidy up the dishes, something changed. I remember my mother, alone in the living room, staring at the child almost lasciviously. She pressed her lips hard against the baby’s apple slice of a cheek. Then she opened her mouth just slightly, took a tiny bit of flesh between her teeth, and gave it a little bite.

The baby wailed. The blotch faded as Adora snuggled the child, and told the other women it was just being fussy. I ran to Marian’s room and got under the covers.

Related Characters: Camille Preaker (speaker), Adora Crellin, Marian Crellin
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“You were always so willful, never sweet. I remember when you were six or seven. I wanted to put your hair up in curlers for your school picture. Instead you cut it all off with my fabric shears.” I didn’t remember doing this. I remembered hearing about Ann doing this.

“I don’t think so, Momma.”

“Headstrong. Like those girls. I tried to be close with those girls, those dead girls.”

“What do you mean be close with them?”

“They reminded me of you, running around town wild. Like little pretty animals. I thought if I could be close with them, I would understand you better. If I could like them, maybe I could like you. But I couldn’t. […] And now you come back and all I can think of is ‘Why Marian and not her?’”

Rage flattened immediately into a dark despair. My fingers found a wood staple in the floorboard. I jabbed it under my fingernail. I would not cry for this woman.

“I’m not so pleased to be left here anyway, Momma, if it makes you feel any better.”

“You’re so hateful.”

“I learned at your feet.” My mother lunged then, grabbed me by both arms. Then she reached behind me and, with one fingernail, circled the spot on my back that had no scars.

“The only place you have left,” she whispered at me. Her breath was cloying and musky, like air coming from a spring well.

“Yes.”

“Someday I’ll carve my name there.” She shook me once, released me, then left me on the stairs with the warm remains of our liquor.

Related Characters: Camille Preaker (speaker), Adora Crellin (speaker), Ann Nash, Natalie Keene, Marian Crellin
Related Symbols: Camille’s Scars
Page Number: 148-149
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“She gave me something that made me feel really groggy and sick,” I said.

“Blue?”

I nodded.

“Yeah, she likes that one,” Amma mumbled. “You fall asleep all hot and drooly, and then she can bring her friends in to look at you.”

“She’s done this before?” My body went cold under the sweat. I was right: Something horrible was about to happen.

She shrugged. “I don’t mind. Sometimes I don’t take it—just pretend. Then we’re both happy. I play with my dolls or I read, and when I hear her coming I pretend to be asleep.”

“Amma?” I sat down on the floor next to her and stroked her hair. I needed to be gentle. “Does she give you pills and stuff a lot?”

“Only when I’m about to be sick.”

“What happens then?”

“Sometimes I get all hot and crazy and she has to give me cold baths. Sometimes I need to throw up. Sometimes I get all shivery and weak and tired and I just want to sleep.”

It was happening again. Just like Marian. I could feel the bile in the back of my throat, the tightening. I began weeping again, stood up, sat back down. My stomach was churning. I put my head in my hands. Amma and I were sick just like Marian. It had to be made that obvious to me before I finally understood—nearly twenty years too late. I wanted to scream in shame.

Related Characters: Camille Preaker (speaker), Amma Crellin (speaker), Adora Crellin, Marian Crellin
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Sharp Objects LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sharp Objects PDF

Marian Crellin Character Timeline in Sharp Objects

The timeline below shows where the character Marian Crellin appears in Sharp Objects. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
...cheap, uninspired furniture. The only decoration is a framed photograph of Camille’s deceased younger sister, Marian, when she was about seven years old. (full context)
Chapter 3
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille asks if Natalie’s funeral was particularly hard on Adora—the unspoken connection with Marian’s funeral lingers in the air. Camille admits that she, too, still misses Marian, and had... (full context)
Chapter 4
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
...a familiar scene at the house—a scene that reminds her of “the old days with Marian.” Adora is on the couch, cradling Amma—who is dressed in a woolen nightgown in spite... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...ointments and oils—“homeopathic nonsense.” Camille most often refused the awful solutions, and once her sister Marian got sick, Adora became more concerned with her well-being than Camille’s. (full context)
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Camille’s younger sister Marian died on Camille’s thirteenth birthday, and, that summer, Camille became “suddenly, unmistakably beautiful” and popular... (full context)
Chapter 5
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...age. Camille isn’t sure whether Adora is referring to her cutting, her crying jags over Marian’s death, or the “overactive sex life” she’d embarked on, but she simply nods. (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...is, and how personally the woman takes “every tragedy that happens in the world.” After Marian died, Adora didn’t come out of her luxurious, ivory-tiled bedroom for a year—and she forbid... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Alan fathered Camille’s sister Marian when Camille was just a few years old, and Marian was a sick baby from... (full context)
Chapter 7
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...convinced herself that the distance between her and her mother was a defense constructed after Marian’s death—but now Camille believes that Adora has “always had more problems with children than she’d... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille has a memory in her head of an afternoon about two years after Marian’s death, when Adora had a group of friends over for afternoon drinks. Camille was supposed... (full context)
Chapter 9
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...images of Bob Nash, Natalie’s mother, her own younger self crying on the floor of Marian’s bedroom, Natalie stabbing her classmate in the eyes, and lastly of Amma—a “woman-child” with dark... (full context)
Chapter 10
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
...was willful and spiteful as a child, always disobedient. Adora admits that she wonders why Marian had to die and not Camille. (full context)
Chapter 11
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...to ask her to leave. Alan accuses Camille of tormenting Adora by constantly bringing up Marian or discussing, in gory detail, the murders of Ann and Natalie. Camille insists she hasn’t... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...drink and brings it upstairs to her bedroom, where she loses herself in memories of Marian, whom she adored. She creeps down the hallway to Marian’s old room and wonders what... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
In Marian’s room, everything is pristine. A set of clothes is laid out on the bed, and... (full context)
Chapter 12
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
...them. They discuss Adora, and Amma admits that she often hears her mother whimpering Camille, Marian, and Joya’s names in her sleep. Amma also states that every time Adora takes care... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
...scene, comfortably sharing a bed with Amma, before realizing she’s actually picturing old memories with Marian. (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
After Camille falls asleep, she has a dream in which Marian, sweaty and dressed in a white nightgown, comes to her and tells her that it’s... (full context)
Chapter 13
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...from the ecstasy, but she cannot quiet her mind. She worries that she has forsaken Marian for Amma and ignored the warning visited upon her in her dream. (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...she realizes the awful truth: Adora is poisoning her and Amma, just as she poisoned Marian to death years ago. (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...don’t let her, it’ll be even worse for you.” Jackie points out what happened to Marian—and what’s happening, right now, to Amma. Relieved to have someone confirm the truth, Camille asks... (full context)
Chapter 14
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 15
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
At the hospital, Camille waits for hours while nurses and various staff track down Marian’s medical records. When Camille finally obtains the charts, she can hardly understand them—the thick files... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...hand, inserted into one of the files. The note, written by a nurse who attended Marian, states that the nurse believes there is in fact nothing wrong with Marian, who only... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...no doctors ever followed up on her report, and though the nurse was invested in Marian’s case, she was too exhausted by her own difficult life to push for action. She... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...much as a pleasant greeting. She tells him that she thinks that her mother killed Marian, Ann, and Natalie—and that she thinks Richard thinks so, too. She calls Richard “sick” and... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
...evidence, there’s no way to arrest her—he reveals that the investigators are planning to disinter Marian and run some tests. Camille demands that Richard “leave [Marian] be.” Richard tells Camille that... (full context)
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Amma continues talking fancifully about death, and even brings up Marian. When Amma asks Adora about Marian, Adora replies that “maybe [they] should have all ended... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...get in, too; Camille obliges, reflecting on how fifteen years ago, in the wake of Marian’s death, all she wanted was to curl up in bed with her mother. (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...half-apologizes for never loving Camille, explaining that she wanted to, but found Camille hard to love—Marian, on the other hand, was easy. (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...need created by Adora. Camille tells her mother that she will never forgive her for Marian, who was just a baby. Adora thoughtfully replies that Marian will “always be [her] baby.” (full context)
Chapter 16
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 17
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
On May 28th, Adora is arrested for the murders of Ann Nash, Natalie Keene, and Marian. Alan bails her out so that she can await trial “in the comfort of her... (full context)
Epilogue
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Adora is found guilty of murder in the first degree for what she did to Marian, and her lawyer begins planning an appeal. The Wind Gap house is abandoned—Alan has moved... (full context)