Chapter 27: Less a Character and More a Plot Device of Doom
Please note that posts may be a bit slapdash and a bit irregular through the month of March. My sincere apologies!
Betty, at least in this chapter, isn’t so much a character as a figure of plot convenience. When the triplets’ grandfather sees her, she immediately rushes into his embrace and it’s very sweet—Betty hasn’t been home in years, after all. But after that moment, Betty is less human being and more Walking Collection of Plot Pushing and Over-the-Top Hardened Sexuality.
Well, that’s a longer title than I was going for, so we’ll stick with calling her Betty.
The first thing she does is stick her fingers into the family’s desert (apple cobbler) and then suck her fingers as she looks at Gerald and Logan. Billie breaks into panic-mode, but decides that Betty couldn’t know what she (Billie) had done with Logan in the past and that Logan wouldn’t bring it up at the dinner table.
Betty turns her attention to Gerald, first, skipping all the smalltalk and going straight to “You manage to get into Bobbi’s pants yet?” (445). You know, just in case you weren’t sure we were dealing with a caricature yet.
A caricature who uses drugs, apparently, although the text doesn’t specify what kind. Billie’s assessment of her sister is that she’s “using”, while Bobbi snaps that whenever Betty is around, all the pills disappear, even non-prescription ones. Billie is embarrassed that Logan is witnessing all of this and suggests that he might want to leave, but this only draws Betty’s attention to him, which, as you can guess, is not going to go well. The relationships in the room click for Betty.
“Wow. You finally snagged him. Congrats” (448).
Logan is confused by this declaration and demands an explanation, even while Billie tries to get her to not say more. As you might have guessed, since Betty is pretty much here in order to cause maximum damage as we head into the end of this novel, she announces that Billie has been in love with Logan since forever ago and goes on for a while about how Billie mooned over him. When Logan tries to curb her rant by asking if she has a point beyond bringing up their past, Betty drops the bombshell we’ve all been waiting for.
“The only past we have is you wanting me and, well, me rejecting you” (452).
Only it’s worse than that for Betty, although this chapter doesn’t explain why, specifically. Billie can see that Betty is angry, and in fact the recently-returned triplet continues.
“Don’t you want to know who you slept with at the Christmas party? Because it sure as hell wasn’t me, even though,” her voice shook a bit. “Even though several guys were more than happy to ask for the chance you got” (452).
So, Betty is angry about the Christmas party rape-by-deception. I don’t currently have plans to read the other two books in this trilogy where I’d probably find out the actual reasoning, but it reads to me that perhaps Betty hadn’t actually slept with anyone (not just not with Logan) and is upset about her reputation. (Earlier, when she’s going on about Billie mooning over Logan and Logan not knowing that she was alive, Betty says that she (Betty) was the triplet who was “easy and loose” (450). So she already had that reputation before the Christmas party, deserved or not, thus I’m not sure that that’s what she’s upset about, or if she had actually wanted Logan and is annoyed that Billie slept with him at all, let alone as Betty, or what.
Appropriately, Logan’s pretty horrified and turns on Billie at this point. He demands that she say it out loud (at first she only nods) and he points out how badly he’d felt that he’d slept with Betty and how he’d admitted it to her just the other night.
“You pretended to be your sister so we could have sex? How fucking screwed up is that? Who does that kind of shit?” (453).
I’m glad the text is calling Billie on this, even if it doesn’t go as far as I would want it to (and call a spade a spade—or a sexual assault a sexual assault.) I’m less pleased, however, with where Logan goes next.
“Who else have you screwed? … Don’t expect me to believe you didn’t pull that kind of crap with other guys” (455).
Billie did something very, very wrong. But slut shaming her isn’t going to help, Logan. I suppose I won’t get too up in arms over this, though, since he’s very angry and since he’s very much a product of the culture we’ve seen in this book (and which we see every day, of course.)
He storms out after declaring that they’re through. That seems fair to me.
Betty, however, is just settling in and informs the family that she’s home because her lover stole all her money, she lost her modeling contract because she was using drugs, and her agent has let her go. So I guess Betty has some reasons to be rather angry at the world, even if she is a plot device at the moment rather than a proper character.