We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


Karen Joy Fowler

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: Part 5, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Rosemary walks home slowly, reluctant to see Harlow. She reflects that although she’s presented Lowell as fairly “lucid,” in reality he seemed totally insane. He’d told Harlow he was a pharmaceutical rep and behaved normally around her, but later Rosemary noticed that his eyes were moving in a strange way. Rosemary then begins to think about Fern. The prospect of freeing both her and Hazel seems impossible. Rosemary wonders if Fern would even want to be freed at this stage. Outside her apartment building, Rosemary finds Reg sitting in his car reading Intro to Biology. Rosemary asks him what he is doing there, and he replies: “Losing my self-respect.” Reg tells her that he and Harlow might be breaking up. Rosemary tells him to go home, and then she goes inside and gets into bed. She falls asleep holding Madame Defarge.
In this passage Rosemary grapples with the aftermath of Lowell’s brief entrance into her world. Throughout her life, Rosemary has looked up to and trusted Lowell, but here she reveals that there is now an extreme vulnerability and instability to him. Is it still right for her to trust him and obey his wishes when he seems to have a fairly shaky grasp on reality? Lowell’s fragility immediately finds a parallel with Reg’s lovesick state. Whereas in the past Rosemary felt that everyone around her was “normal” and well-adjusted, it now seems as if they are all falling apart.
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