Christian Grey and the Chamber of Apples: Chapter 15 of EL James’s “Grey”

nine

Previous Post.

Last time on the recaps that will never end, I managed to finish up the world’s longest chapter even though EL James had the fucking gall to break off in the MIDDLE of a scene because technically their conversation happened on either side of midnight. Because this is the kind of genius writing mind we’re dealing with — one that doesn’t acknowledge that most sane people would probably still call 1am “night” if they haven’t gone to bed yet.

But frankly if that chapter had gone on any longer I would’ve thrown my Kindle out the nearest available window, so I shouldn’t complain too much.

Anyway, we left off with Christian telling Ana he was going to stick some ben wa balls into her vagina and then spank her. And, though I wish I didn’t have to type that out again, I need to set this up because the next chapter (Monday, May 30, 2011) opens with this context-free poetry:

Her sharp intake of breath is music to my dick.

That last chapter was so depressing that I kind of want this whole section to be narrated by Christian’s wizarding love wand, but sadly it isn’t:

“Then we’ll fuck,” I whisper. “And if you’re still awake, I’ll impart some information about my formative years. Agreed?”

I both love that he’s whispering, and that he’s worried he might fuck her straight to sleep. Because that’s how crazy their love-making is: it comes with a drowsiness warning.

I’m not even going to touch the fact that she’s “letting” him have kink sex with her in exchange for information about his childhood.

She nods. Her breathing has accelerated, her pupils are larger, darker, with her need and her thirst for knowledge.

She’d probably spontaneously orgasm if he showed her a photo album of his family trip to the Grand Canyon.

Anyway, he sticks his (ben wa) balls into her mouth, and then into her vagina, and then asks her to go walk around for a bit so she can find out that having balls in her vagina feels good. This is about as crazy/sexy as this book gets, but I’m bored and we’ve heard it all before.

And even though this chapter does promise more goofy stupidity and less depressing rape, we still have to deal with this incredibly fucked-up line:

Boy, she’s really turned on. So different from the last time I spanked her.

You mean when she didn’t want it, and wasn’t turned on by it, and then started sobbing because you refused to stay with her or take care of her afterwards? Is it maybe a little different from that?

He spanks her, it takes forever, nothing particularly interesting happens. Except that he whines a bit about condoms which he HATES because he’s the absolute worst:

Turning her over, I pause to yank my pants off and put on a wretched condom, then lie down beside her.

BACK — BACK FOUL CONDOM! You have to admire the pure selfishness of a man who is having every possible sexual whim catered to and yet still complains about the fact that he has to wait a couple of weeks for the pill he forced his girlfriend to take to kick in. It’s moments like these where you wonder why Christian Grey doesn’t just build himself a solar-powered sex robot.

They have THE SEX. This is the exchange that follows:

“Spill the beans, Grey,” she says with a yawn.

From the erotic page-turner of the century.

“Miss Steele, you know how to ruin a moment.”

“We had a deal,” she insists.

“How do you feel?”

“Shortchanged.”

Which… she has every right to feel, because they did have a deal. It’s a really messed up deal, but one that he did agree to.

With a heavy sigh I place the arnica cream on the bedside table and slip into bed, pulling Ana into my arms. I kiss her ear. “The woman who brought me into this world was a crack whore, Anastasia. Go to sleep.”

Yeah, that’ll probably be more than enough.

She tenses in my arms.

I still. I do not want her sympathy or pity.

Which is fine! It’s fine that he has things in his life that he’s not comfortable sharing yet. But what’s not fine is making a deal that exchanges sex she doesn’t want to have for information you don’t want to give… and then refusing to give that information after taking full advantage of the sex.

I’m not touching the phrase “crack whore” with a 10-foot pole, however, because fuck Christian Grey and his transparent misogyny and classism.

Anyway, Christian explains that his mom is dead and that he doesn’t remember much (which is a lie), that his adoptive father told him most of what he now knows about his mother, and then he insists that Ana go to bed AT ONCE because they have a mature relationship.

Christian proceeds to have yet another dream. This time he dreams about the time he beat up his bro-tastic broski Elliot when they were gamboling about grandpa’s literal and strangely metaphorical apple orchard as children. The phrase “righteous dweeb” is used. There is a conspicuous lack of cheese — moldy or otherwise.

Christian wakes up and explains the dream we just read about:

I’ve dreamed about romping through my grandfather’s apple orchard with Elliot; those were happy, angry days.

The dream literally contained the words “apple” and “grandfather.” Nobody was confused. But forget all of that, because Christian needs to go to work, in case you forgot he has a job, which he definitely does:

It’s nearly seven–another lie-in with Miss Steele. It’s odd waking up beside her, but odd in a good way. I contemplate waking her with a morning fuck; my body is more than willing–but she’s practically comatose and she might be sore. I should let her sleep.

I’m in a head space at this point where everything he does sounds really gross, but… is he literally saying that he wants to wake her up WITH sex? Am I reading into that, or is that what it says? I can’t even tell anymore. Even if he wasn’t contemplating a quick sleep-rape, the continued language of sex as something he “does” to her — rather than with her — is really creepy to me.

Christian gets up and runs into his housekeeper, who is a woman, but apparently she’s the “right” kind of woman because he remembers both her name and some vague personal details about her:

“Good morning, Gail.” Stretching I look out the windows at the remnants of a vivid dawn.

poetry

“You have some laundry there?” she asks.

“Yes. These are Anastasia’s.”

“Do you want me to wash and press them?”

“Do you have time?”

“I’ll put them on the quick cycle.”

“Excellent, and thank you.” I pass her Anastasia’s clothes.

Most of the time these exchanges sound like the kind of thing an 8 year old would come up with while playing with stuffed animals at a make-believe tea party. “Please pass the sugar, Mrs. Mouse.” “And then what do you say, Mr. Bear?” “Please clean my sex laundry, Mrs. Mouse.”

Why is this dialog in here? What does it help to establish? Or is it just that EL James really can’t think of anything for Christian Grey to do, so she just has him wander around having the world’s most mundane interactions with people — interactions that could be skipped over in a couple of lines? But pardon me, because Christian is a gentleman and a GREAT employer:

“How was your sister?”

“Very well, thanks. The kids are growing. Boys can be rough.”

“I know.”

He did it, everyone! He was nice to a single female employee!

don draper

She smiles and offers to make me some coffee.

So EL James DOES know how to skip over boring dialog with an expository sentence. Amazing.

“Please. I’ll be in my study.” As she watches me her smile changes from pleasant to knowing…in the way that’s feminine and secretive.

FEMININE AND SECRETIVE.

LAUGH

It would’ve made more sense for her to look “feminine and secretive” after he handed her the laundry, or asked her to make a second breakfast. But the only way it makes sense for her to look “feminine and secretive” after he asks for coffee in his study is if she knows he goes in there to masturbate. Or if she thinks “coffee in the study” is a euphemism. For masturbating in your office.

Either way, who wants to bet that she’s going to piss in his coffee? With that secret woman-smile of hers’.

Then she hurries out of the kitchen, I assume to the laundry room.

What’s her problem?

I mean, I know that Mrs. Jones is some benign Mrs. Potts figure in this terrible Beauty and the Beast remake that EL James has created, but I really want to believe it’s that she’s been secretly fucking with him for years. Like she and Angel and Olivia are going to fully Nine to Five him one of these days. Preferably with Kate’s financial backing.

Okay, this is the first Monday–the first time–in the four years she’s worked for me that there’s been a woman asleep in my bed. But it’s not that big a deal. Breakfast for two, Mrs. Jones. I think you can manage that.

Oh, good — he’s back to being condescending and shitty. And answering his own rhetorical questions.

He goes into his study and drinks his piss coffee. Then we get this stunning update:

Gail knocks and brings me a second cup of coffee, letting me know it’s already 8:15.

You don’t have clocks in your home office? Like on your computer, or your wrist, or your wall, or your phone?

my design

That late?

“I’m not going into the office this morning.”

Back at the office, Olivia and Angela celebrate by putting milk in all the coffee.

“Taylor was asking.”

“I’ll go this afternoon.”

“I’ll tell him. I’ve hung Miss Steele’s clothes in your closet.”

“Thank you. That was quick. She still asleep?”

“I think so.” And there’s that little smile again. I arch my brows and her smile broadens as she turns to leave my study.

wink

I put my work aside and head off with my coffee to take a shower and have a shave.

GOOD GOD NOT ANOTHER SHOWER.

Christian finishes his shower, and muses about the fact that Ana is still asleep at 9 AM. He concludes that he must have put her to sleep with his expert dick magic — rather than the more obvious answer, which is that she’s a 22 year old who just graduated from college and doesn’t have a job.

He then rambles about his mansion and calls his “second-in-command,” Ros, who chews him out for blowing off work for a month. Which… at least someone finally said it, but it still seems unlikely that his COO would be comfortable calling him on it.

In retaliation, he does some HARD-ASS BUSINESS where he tells people to buy, sell, and merge or whatever. Then he looks out at the sky, which is always full of tragic perfume ad imagery that reflects his soul:

While I wait for her to pick up the phone I gaze out at the cloudless sky. It’s the same shade as Ana’s eyes.

Sappy, Grey.

chanel

Then Ana wakes up and comes into his masturbatorium:

My eyes lock with Ana’s. They are the color of a summer sky and just as warm. Good Lord, I could bask in her warmth all day–every day.

Don’t be absurd, Grey.

chanel

Again, the italics seem to be his version of the “Subconscious” character from the original books. And I still don’t get why a split personality is so attractive to EL James as a narrative device, but it does make her characters seem like totally un-self-aware children who need to parcel out their thoughts and emotions to imaginary third-parties and that’s certainly weird.

But sorry, Christian Grey is a BUSINESS MAN who does BUSINESS all day — at least when he’s not saving all of Africa:

“Sam wants to talk to you, this morning.”

“Tell him to wait.”

“It’s about Darfur.”

“Oh?”

go

“Apparently he sees the aid convoy as a great personal PR opportunity.”

Oh, God. He would, wouldn’t he?

EL JAMES STOP THIS RIGHT NOW. Christian Grey doesn’t give a fuck about poor people ever. It’s all one giant PR campaign on your part to make the reader think that he can’t “really” be the an abusive psycho and that Ana just needs to “relax.” Because if he wasn’t the absolute worst, he wouldn’t call his own mother a “crack whore,” and he wouldn’t refuse to build a plant in Detroit because of his own “personal demons.”

“No, I don’t want publicity for Darfur.” My voice is gruff with exasperation.

Of course you don’t.

Also, note that this is another example of EL James refusing to have her characters take any ownership for their own feelings — his “voice” is gruff with exasperation, but is he exasperated?

“He says there’s a journalist from Forbes who wants to talk to you about it.”

How the hell do they know?

He just gave a big speech at a graduation ceremony about his well-known African philanthropy. Like a handful of chapters ago. Everyone knows. Everyone knows about the charity that he doesn’t want everyone to know about. Because he keeps telling them about it.

This conversation is happening between Christian and one of his many roving assistants, Andrea, who then reminds Christian of the tragic boring charity gala he’s forced to attend later on — which he HATES having to go to, even though he’s all about the charity always:

“I’ll need an extra ticket, because I have a date,” I inform Andrea.

“A date?” Andrea squeaks with incredulity.

Yes — you know, the girl I made you book the gynecological exam for? I’m going to take her out for dinner and everything because I’m a NEW MAN.

I sigh. “Yes, Andrea. That’s what I said. A date. Miss Steele will accompany me.”

“Yes, Mr. Grey.” She sounds as if I’ve made her day.

For fuck’s sake. What is it with my staff?

You treat them like shit and they hate you.

Christian and Ana talk for a bit about nothing, but then THE PASSION overwhelms them and we get this amazing 80s-era sex scene moment:

Losing all self-restraint, I sweep everything off my desk, sending my papers, phone, and pens all clattering or floating to the floor, but I don’t give a damn.

Hot.

I lift Ana and lay her across my desk so her hair spills over the edge and onto the seat of my chair.

Is anything supporting her neck? That sounds awful.

“You want it, you got it, baby,” I growl, whipping out the condom and unzipping my pants.

Whipping it out. Like a magician no doubt.

Making quick work of covering my cock, I stare down at the insatiable Miss Steele. “I sure hope you’re ready,” I warn her, grabbing hold of her wrists and keeping them at her sides. With one swift move I’m inside her.

Without wanting to make light of it, it just feels like all of their sex has some level of “assault” to it. Like “I hope you’re ready” — which isn’t a question, just sort of a heads’-up. Because, you know, if she’s not, he doesn’t really care anyway.

“Ah…Christ, Ana. You’re so ready.”

Oh, well. Good to know. That was your call to make, after all.

I give her a nanosecond to adjust to my presence. Then I start to push. Back and forth. Over and over. Harder and harder.

So… this guy is definitely terrible at sex. I mean, you can write a character having an orgasm every 3 seconds and loving it, but these descriptions do nothing to convince me that he has any clue what he’s doing, but rather that he picks inexperienced people who don’t know better.

They both have a simultaneous orgasm in Narnia, and then Christian throws out more of his beautiful broetry:

“What the hell are you doing to me?” I’m breathless, my lips skimming her neck. “You completely beguile me, Ana. You weave some powerful magic.”

wizard

Has anyone ever said anything remotely like that out loud on purpose?

“I’m the one that’s beguiled,” she whispers. Our eyes are locked, her scrutiny intense, as if she’s seeing through me. Seeing the darkness in my soul.

opened

This has all the makings of a killer livejournal entry.

Anyway, Christian has to slither back into his lair because Ana’s getting TOO CLOSE to THE DARKNESS. Which is not to say that he’s going to let Ana have her own life:

I cup her face in my hands to kiss her quickly, but as I do the unwelcome thought of her being in this position with someone else pops into my mind. No. She’s not doing this with anyone else. Ever.

“You. Are. Mine.” My words crack between us.

Crack?

“Do you understand?”

“Yes, yours,” she says, her expression heartfelt, her words full of conviction, and my irrational jealousy recedes.

“Are you sure you have to go to Georgia?” I ask, smoothing her hair from around her face.

Fuck this dude. She literally wants 2 days to be alone with her mom.

She nods.

Damn.

I pull out of her and she winces.

“Are you sore?”

He asks, knowing she is. Because he pulled out at that moment on purpose as a “punishment.”

“A little,” she says with a timid smile.

“I like you sore. Reminds you where I’ve been, and only me.” I give her a rough, possessive kiss.

Because I don’t want her to go to Georgia.

Pretty sure I don’t need to spell out anything this blatant.

As I tug off the condom, she murmurs, “Always prepared.”

I give her a confounded look as I fasten my fly. She holds up the empty foil packet by way of explanation.

“A man can hope, Anastasia, dream even, and sometimes dreams come true.” I had no idea I’d get used to it so soon, and on her terms, not mine. Miss Steele, for such an innocent, you are, as ever, unexpected.

I legitimately have no idea what he’s talking about, and what follows doesn’t help to explain it:

“So…on your desk…that’s been a dream?” she asks.

Sweetheart. I’ve had sex on this desk many, many times, but always at my instigation, never at a submissive’s.

So then what was the dream?

This is not how it works.

Her face falls as she reads my thoughts.

LITERALLY?

Shit. What can I say? Ana, unlike you, I have a past.

He’s just so gross.

Then Ana goes to have a shower because everyone in this book needs to shower 30 times a day.

Finally, EL James breaks and has Chrsitian explain to the reader that he was totally blown away gby the fact that Ana came into his office and wanted THE SEX, and he keeps saying that she “seduced” him, which… fine. If by “seduced” he means “was actually interested in sex this one time and didn’t explicitly tell me ‘no’.”

How the hell can she just waltz into my study and seduce me? I’m supposed to be in control of this relationship. This is what I was thinking about last night: her unbridled enthusiasm and affection. How the hell am I supposed to deal with that? It’s not something I know. I pause as I pick up my phone.

But it’s nice.

Yeah.

More than nice.

Cool.

Anyway, Christian remembers that he does business sometimes, and his business people who also do the business at his business company call him to ask if he wants to do business in Detroit — so hold on for some world-class bullshit:

I have vague memories of the place: drunks, hobos, and crackheads shouting at us on the streets; the seedy dive we called home; and a young, broken woman, the crack whore I called Mommy, staring into space while she sat in a drab, grimy room filled with stale air and dust motes.

Welcome to EL James’s portrayal of all poor people: disgusting, horrible, smelly drug addicts who are sad and gross. The only way anyone can be saved is through money and the love of a virgin! But mostly money.

I’m trying to be glib because holy fuck is that a hard read. What kind of hideous human being could write something like that with no sense of guilt?

I’ve never mentioned the crack whore to anyone. Perhaps that’s why Ana attacked me this morning: she thinks I need some TLC.

I can’t handle this sentence right now. Every piece of it is gross. Fuck you, EL James, for writing your wealth porn trash.

Fuck that.

Baby. I’ll take your body if you offer it up. I’m doing just fine. But even as the thought pops into my head I wonder if I’m “just fine.” I ignore my unease; it’s something to discuss with Flynn when he’s back.

Right now, I’m hungry. I hope she’s gotten her sweet butt out of that shower, because I need to eat.

That’s some unfortunate phrasing.

And while I really don’t want to keep prolonging this nightmarish experience, I feel like I need to cut this chapter in half again. Because we still have like 3 more “major” scenes to go and I already feel like this has dragged on too long.

EL James, seriously, what the fuck were you thinking with this chapter structure? It makes no sense. How am I supposed to make fun of you under these conditions?

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2 thoughts on “Christian Grey and the Chamber of Apples: Chapter 15 of EL James’s “Grey”

  1. I realise this is far from the biggest problem, but I find it hilarious that he realises the sky is the colour of her eyes *and* her eyes are the colour of sky. Who would’ve thunk? xD

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