As if Grey hasn’t been enough of a nightmare already, chapter 4 begins with Christian having a nightmare.
I’m smothered in sweat, with the stench of stale beer, cigarettes, and poverty in my nostrils and a lingering dread of drunken violence.
Christian has some fucked-up classist notions, of which this sentence is just one example. “The stench of poverty”? Earlier in the book, he also remarked to himself that both Ana and Kate looked privileged and spoiled. It seems that Rich Boy was unaware of how ironic it is for him to feel that way about anyone. He’s got issues around money, to say the least.
After he wakes from his poverty nightmare, he ruminates on how he kinda regrets rejecting Ana. He mentions that his psychiatrist is on vacation in England, which makes me wonder if this entire disastrous relationship could’ve been avoided, had Christian been able to talk with a mental health professional about his predatory tendencies before acting on them with Ana.
He hears someone talking about Jane Austen on the radio and it gives him the idea to send bookworm Ana his first-edition copy of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The way he talks about it, though, it seems less like a romantic gesture and more like a contemptuous act to prove to Ana that he’s not as vapid as she seemed to think.
Christian goes to work at his company, where one of his assistants asks him about “the Darfur project” (what does Grey Enterprises Holdings even do?).
“Would you like milk [in your espresso], sir?” Andrea asks. Good girl. I give her a smile. “Not today.” I do like to keep them guessing how I take my coffee.
Yes, this seems like a good use of your work time, Christian: guesspresso games. I can see why you’ve become so successful in your field, whatever it is.
Christian calls up the private investigator who did the background check on Ana before, and asks him to find out when her last exam is. Increasingly, Christian is doing things that would cause me to call the cops on him if he did them to me IRL. He has zero chill.
We see him interact with his “number two” and a couple of female assistants, and he’s categorically an asshole to all of them.
He chooses a quote from Tess of the D’Urbervilles to inscribe on the notecard he’s sending Ana along with the books. The quote is essentially a warning telling her to stay away from him, or at least guard against him. I wish she would listen, but I know she won’t. Sigh…
As chapter 5 begins, Christian gets a phone call from his brother, Elliot, who says, “Dude, I need to get out of Seattle this weekend. This chick is all over my junk and I’ve got to get away.” Don’t you love when middle-aged British ladies try to write like twenty-something American jocks and fail spectacularly?
Elliot sleeps most of the way to Portland. Poor fucker must be fried. Working and fucking: that’s Elliot’s raison d’etre.
Do you pay any attention to your own life, Christian? Literally all you do is work and fuck, too. (And hike, apparently.)
After a day of bro’ing out – mountain biking and watching a Mariners game – Christian and Elliot are hanging out at the Heathman hotel when Ana calls from a bar. She’s drunk… because she’s an adult and can decide to drink if she wants to.
Anxiety blooms in my gut. She’s a young woman, drunk, somewhere in Portland. She’s not safe.
This guy knows that bars in Portland (hell, bars everywhere) are filled with drunk young adults, right? That’s kind of how bars work.
“What’s the problem?” Elliot calls over from the sofa.
“I’ve just been drunk-dialed.” I peer at him and his mouth drops open in surprise.
“Yep.” I press the callback button, trying to contain my temper and my anxiety.
When Christian shows up at the bar to “save” Ana from her own drunkenness, he spots her being accosted by her friend, José. This is one of the only instances (maybe the only instance?) in the book where Christian seems to understand the importance of informed, enthusiastic, level-headed consent. He can comprehend that Ana is incapacitated and José is taking advantage of her and advancing on her in a way she doesn’t want. Why can’t Christian apply this understanding to his own behavior?
I seem to remember that in the movie, this altercation involved Grey punching José. In the book, he just says, “I think the lady said no,” and José backs off. It’s unusual for Book Christian to be a better dude than Movie Christian; this is one of the few times that’s the case.
Then José says “Dios mío,” which is essentially his catchphrase, because E.L. James doesn’t know how to write non-white characters without being shitty about it.
I grab her hair and hold it out of the way as she continues to throw up everything she’s had this evening. It’s with some annoyance that I note she doesn’t appear to have eaten.
Oh god, I love that Christian apparently a) studies Ana’s vomit closely here and b) can diagnose her recent eating and drinking habits from reading her vomit like tea leaves. Amazing.
“It’s about knowing your limits, Anastasia. I mean, I’m all for pushing limits, but really this is beyond the pale. Do you make a habit of this kind of behavior?” Perhaps she has a problem with alcohol. The thought is worrying, and I consider whether I should call my mother for a referral to a detox clinic.
Are you fuuuuucking serious. She goes overboard on one night of drinking and you automatically assume she’s an alcoholic who needs to go to rehab? Without even knowing her?! Aaaargghhh, Christian. (Also, for the record, this is literally Ana’s first time being drunk. Of course she didn’t know her limits yet.)
Let me take Miss Drunk Bookworm home, but for some reason she seems reluctant to go.
Could it be because she’s drunk, has just learned that awful men will try to take advantage of her when she’s drunk, barely knows you and has no reason to trust you? Could those possibly be the reasons she’s hesitant to go back to your hotel with you, Christian?
I know I should take her home, but it’s a long drive to Vancouver, and I don’t know if she’ll be sick again. I don’t relish the idea of my Audi reeking of vomit. The smell emanating from her clothes is already noticeable.
It is a mystery to me how anyone reading this book could possibly think Christian cares about Ana, let alone loves her.
After Grey undresses Ana (!) and puts her to bed at his hotel, he contacts his private investigator again to find out whether Ana’s friend José has a police record. I feel conflicted about this. One dude with problematic ideas about consent is trying to keep another dude with problematic ideas about consent from enacting those ideas…
Then he emails his driver, Taylor, with a detailed list of clothing items he wants Taylor to buy for Ana: blue jeans (size 4), pretty blue blouse (size 4), black Converse (size 7), socks (size 7), underwear (size small), and bra (“estimate 34C”). I know this is supposed to seem sweet, but it’s just creepy.
I text Elliot. “Ana is with me. If you’re still with Kate, tell her.”
He texts by return. “Will do. Hope you get laid. You soooo need it. ;)”
His response makes me snort. I so do, Elliot. I so do.
I know he’s not going to attack Ana while she’s sleeping, but… I still wish I was there and could tell her to get the fuck out of this dude’s hotel room.
Stay tuned for the next chapter; I think it’s the one where Christian non-consensually bites Ana’s toast. Riveting stuff, people!