We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rosemary returns to the scene at the cafeteria where she first met Harlow. Rosemary admires Harlow’s “performance,” but doesn’t believe it is authentic. She jumps forward to the moment at which she finds Harlow in her apartment. It is at this point that she realizes she is drawn to Harlow because Harlow’s behavior reminds her of her own “essential monkey-girlness.” This realization makes her cautious that spending time around Harlow will lead her to re-adopt the chimp characteristics that she worked so hard to give up. At the same time, she feels “comfortable with her in a way that I never felt comfortable with anyone.”
Rosemary’s shame over her “monkey-girlness” is rather tragic, as it is a form of self-hatred directed at an aspect of herself over which she had no control. At the same time, it cannot be denied that Harlow’s behavior is destructive, dangerous, and alienating—not to mention self-centered. While the book critiques the hierarchization of humans as better than animals, it is also true that human qualities of consideration, selflessness, and reason should not be discarded.
Themes
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Normalcy vs. Deviance Theme Icon
Rosemary notes that there are three major signs of change in her life at this point: 1) the appearance and disappearance of her mother’s journals, 2) the communication from Lowell, and 3) the arrival of Harlow. She is most concerned about Lowell’s return into her life. It is less than two weeks until the Christmas vacation, and she worries that Lowell will show up after she’s returned home to Indiana. When Rosemary first arrived at Davis, she went to the university archives to research the arson attack on the veterinary laboratory of which Lowell had been accused. She learns that the lab was spray-painted with Animal Liberation Front graffiti, and that the incident was classified as a case of domestic terrorism. She looks up a string of arson attacks that followed the UC Davis lab, and learns that no arrests were made.
Rosemary has not generally shown herself to be a particularly superstitious person, but the possible return of Lowell has led her to begin searching her life for “signs.” Her and Lowell’s lives appear to be coincidentally or cosmically connected, when in fact this connection is rather deliberate; Rosemary moved to Davis because the FBI indicated that Lowell might be living there, and when she arrives she deliberately seeks evidence of his movements. The clues Rosemary finds give some level of insight into Lowell’s life, but overall it remains a mystery—there are still too many gaps in the narrative.
Themes
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and the Past Theme Icon
Absence, Silence, and Denial Theme Icon
Science, Knowledge, and Experiments Theme Icon
Normalcy vs. Deviance Theme Icon
Rosemary learns more about the Animal Liberation Front, trying to figure out if Lowell would be sympathetic to their ideology and tactics. She discovers the case of a baby monkey whose eyes were sewn shut at birth, and laments the fact that such atrocities are committed in the name of science. When the FBI visited Rosemary’s family, they mentioned that most ALF activists are “young, white, male, and from the middle class.”
The more Rosemary learns about the Animal Liberation Front, the more likely it seems that Lowell is a member. Note that Rosemary’s reaction to the horrific stories of animal abuse differs from (what we presume was) that of her brother. Although she is upset, she is not compelled to join a radical activist organization as a result.
Themes
Humans vs. Animals Theme Icon
Absence, Silence, and Denial Theme Icon
Science, Knowledge, and Experiments Theme Icon
Normalcy vs. Deviance Theme Icon
Rosemary is about to call the airline to demand that they find her suitcase when Harlow suggests that they first pick the lock of the suitcase Rosemary was wrongfully given. They enlist Ezra to help them unlock it, and at first they only find clothes inside. However, to their shock they then discover a ventriloquist’s dummy. It is wearing a red mob-cap, and thus Rosemary calls it “Madame Defarge.” Ezra and Harlow begin playing with it, but Rosemary finds the dummy disturbing and says they shouldn’t play with it. Eventually, Harlow promises to put Madame Defarge away, and Rosemary agrees to go bar-hopping with her that evening. She admits: “I wanted Harlow to like me.”
Once again, Harlow’s behavior (and influence on Rosemary) teeters dangerously between fun and destructiveness. On one level, Harlow acts much like a light-hearted, carefree child; she is curious about what is inside the suitcase, and when she discovers Madame Defarge she wants to play with it. However, there is also a sinister element to this impulse. Harlow again shows that she has no respect for other people’s privacy or personal property. It is thus arguably understandable that Rosemary is wary of her.
Themes
Normalcy vs. Deviance Theme Icon
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