Blog Post 14: Lost and Found

Warning!!: Based on what happens in our reading for Monday and what I’m asking you to write about here, I imagine that spoilers will abound in people’s posts to this thread. So while you should address the specifics of this directly in what you write, please, do not read what others have written here before you either read for Monday or make your own post. 

And now back to our show…

Hi everyone,

To be deliberately vague (see above), the novel takes a sudden turn in our reading for Monday, so for this blog post you should reflect on that and put it in the context of the novel as a whole and the issues we’ve been discussing and thinking about: how does what happens relate to and/or shift what we’ve been saying about narration and narrative/authorial control? About gender roles and power dynamics? About the genres and narratives this novel is addressing? About how these things relate and intersect, or about other issues that seem significant in the novel to you?  You’re welcome to reflect on the significance of this section’s narrative developments in any way that seems important to you, as long as you do so through a close examination of text from this section and connect it to larger issues and questions in the novel.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, December 4th. After class on Monday, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 7th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

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20 thoughts on “Blog Post 14: Lost and Found

  1. Rebekah Clapham
    Blog Post 14

    This sudden turn in the novel highlights how unreliable and untrustworthy narrators can be. While for the first half of the novel, we were led to believe Amy was passive, submissive, and vulnerable, the second half of the novel reveals Amy to be the opposite. Amy has been controlling how the readers view her, thus it is impossible to know Amy’s true character. Because “Diary Amy” was written for the police, who is this new Amy written for? And what parts of her personality and character do we still not know about/is left out? I think this gap between narrative representation and actual character personality can be seen in the difference between how Amy describes herself and her actions, and how other people view her. For example, Amy believes she is strong, rational, and justified in her actions—and she portrays herself that way through her narrative. As a result of her narrative, I began to see Nick in a horrible light, and I somewhat sympathized with her. However, when you compare Amy’s description of herself, to the description provided by people like Tommy O’Hara and Hilary Handy, you begin to think Amy is a much different person than how she represents herself. This leads to discomfort for a reader, because we feel lied to and manipulated. We no longer know who we can trust if the only access we have to information is through unreliable narrators. We only have the narratives of Amy and Nick—no outside perspective. Because of this, we are pulled inside their twisted world and into their twisted relationship. We cannot take an objective view on the situation because we cannot know which narrative we can trust. Amy and Nick both seem to have trouble admitting their faults, and each blame the other profusely. As readers, we are caught in the middle of their feud and it is hard to know who is more in the wrong.

    However, I think Amy’s change in narrative style and this sudden turn of events makes Amy much more of a three dimensional character than “Diary Amy” was. While “Diary Amy” strived to fit into a one-dimensional, personality quiz based, box, new Amy completely shatters these boxes; there is no short, cute phrase (like “Deprived Diva”) that could begin to capture Amy’s character. New Amy no longer tries to fit the “Cool girl” standards (222-225) and instead, for the first time in her life, stops trying to play a role and figure out what she truly likes. Although very manipulative, unremorseful, and somewhat evil, this new Amy is admirable because she does not confine herself to anybody’s standards. However, Amy’s identity still revolves around Nick—everything she does right now and has been doing for the past year has been to make Nick suffer. Amy also cannot stop thinking about Nick, even after she has left him and escaped her old identity. For example, she compares Jeff’s eyes to Nick’s “frozen blues” (282) and often zones out thinking about memories with Nick. She is fueled and driven by her hatred for her husband. Her existence is still centered around Nick even though her purpose for doing something so outlandish was to escape the boundaries provided by her marriage. It seems Amy’s character is doomed to exist only in relation to her husband, despite her extreme efforts to escape him/the relationship, suggesting that her marriage, unhappiness, and identity issues are much more deeply rooted than she thought.

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  2. Jessica Pavia
    Blog Post 14

    Rather than showing unreliability in narration, I think this sudden twist reveals not only the true Amy, but the true motive of Gone Girl. When we watched those Dateline trailers, the stories were all systematically the same. In order to create her revenge, Amy wrote their lives into one of these episodes. When her narration catches up the Nick’s, Flynn’s writing shows this is truly not your average supermarket mystery–it’s a critique built into a seemingly superficial story. Through this, Flynn proves the indulgent nature to murder mysteries involving the everyday, American white woman. When we realize Amy is not that, it is surprising. Even though we were given all the clues that who Amy was writing herself as was not truly herself. Amy wrote her fake self to “appeal to the cops, to appeal to the public should portions be released. They have to read this diary like it’s some sort of Gothic tragedy. A wonderful, good-hearted woman–whole life ahead of her, everything going for her, whatever else they say about women who die–chooses the wrong mate and pays the ultimate price” (238). Amy knew what she was doing in order for her story to win. Embedded in this passage is sayings actually heard on Dateline–ideas like “she had everything going for her” and “a wonderful, good-hearted woman” reveal the need to not only romanticize woman in narratives, but subtly push tired gender roles. I think what we speculated in class–about how maybe all the women in Dateline episodes had their own diaries planning their escape–was incredibly interesting. Because it might be true. We, as viewers and consumers, just never get their story. But with Amy, we do. Thus, Flynn takes this in strides to make a statement on the average “dead woman.” For once, the story and the narrative is being controlled–and explicitly being shown as controlled through Amy’s continuing journal entries. In supermarket mysteries and other indulgent means, readers never get this side of the story. Thus, continuing a false idea of helpless women instilled by society. Flynn is refusing this through the dynamic narration in Gone Girl. Even though the writing seems so farfetched–mostly because of the murder mystery shows that have been shoved down our throats by a patriarchal mentality–it is also so possible, and makes readers question whether any narrative is true.

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    • I agree with you, in that getting Amy’s perspective of the story, adds a layer of dimension that we never get within Dateline stories, or any other average supermarket mystery novel. In my opinion, this layer of Amy makes her more developed, and stronger as a character. Like I mentioned in class, I think it is incredibly fascinating how drastic of a change Amy’s personalities range in comparison with the beginning of the novel and the middle/end. It greatly relates to her job as a quiz writer. She is hardly the girl in the middle of the spectrum— she is either the “madonna” or the “whore.”

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  3. There is so much that goes on in this section of Gone Girl. We learn that Amy staged her own death to get back at Nick for having an affair with Andie. Amy is very smart and meticulous making her story so believable. Not only does she never let her guard down around Nick, she is also great at manipulating others. For example, the way she takes advantage of Noelle, the pregnant neighbor is really brilliant. Amy knew that she wasn’t not all that smart and can fall for anything, especially when she was able to get Noelle’s urine and bring it to the doctor to have them put in Amy’s medical record that she was pregnant.
    We also learn that the way Amy depicted herself within the diary was not really true since it is completely fabricated and that she is more like way Nick had described her. I believe that Amy was able to take advantage of the system and really make Nick look like a monster. She had the public believe she was pregnant knowing that everyone would eat it up and turn against Nick believing that he wanted her gone because he did not want to have to pay child support to a woman that he loathed. Another way she took advantage of certain feminine stereotypes was when she was dating Nick which was shown from the quote on page 222,
    “That night at the Brooklyn party, I was playing the girl who was in style, the girl a man like Nick wants: the Cool Girl. Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want.”
    From what we read thus far, we know that this is not who Amy really is. She is a woman who is rather conservative and not extremely fun or the life of the party. She acted this way because she knew that was the kind of woman that Nick wanted. It is evident that she couldn’t keep up the act forever which is probably the reason why Nick started seeing Andie since she is actually like the way Amy pretended to be for so many years. In retrospect, Nick really did not know the person he married… an insane woman who is capable of just about anything.

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  4. We have been discussing that Amy’s narrative has been a sexist stereotype of women. Her diary was an ironic construction that Amy was playing with in order to appeal to the oblivious and sexist media that would feel for her story. The turnaround in the novel is based upon the fact that Amy, contrary to what we were set up to believe, is fully aware of her self-induced misogynistic outlook. Amy tells us that in order for men to like her, in order for her to have picked up Nick, she needed to be the “Cool Girl.” Amy describes this phenomenon by saying, “being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, love threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot” (222). The social construction of a perfect woman in this world is the blended mix of beautiful, but “down to earth” because she can be “like one of the boys.” It is significant that Amy is aware of this because it becomes know that Flynn is clearly aware of social constructions and tries to deconstruct this in the novel. Though this is clear, I still find this middle section of the novel possibly even more sexist than it was before, but I am assuming that this is on purpose. I do not like that Amy has become the “psychotic bitch,” because this role plays into the female stereotype again. This causes the audience to side with Nick instead of Amy, though I understand Amy’s intentions and want to side with her. I am assuming that by the third portion of the book, Flynn will change this “bitchy-woman” dynamic as well because she did this for the second half. Flynn is aware of the sexist undertones, contrary to what I believed, so I think that my struggle with this second half will be resolved by the end of the book.

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    • Amy’s multiple narratives is interesting because despite being a strong, intelligent woman in literature, her role is still highly problematic. I am assuming this is purposely done by Flynn to pressure readers’ notions on what women in literature and media are only represented as–two opposite sides of a spectrum controlled by misogynist ideals. Women will often fall into this hole of being either the Madonna, as we talked about in class, or, as Nick put it, the “psychotic bitch.” Having a strong narrative is not always a great and feminist thing when it comes to forms of entertainment, especially if the woman seems inhuman or drastically one characteristic–because when it comes to Amy, we do not root for her necessarily despite being what some consider an new-age female narrative. This is because she is too much. Even when her narration changes, it reads as contrived and too perfect–as not an actual human being. At the sometime, I do not find myself rooting for Nick. I think he gets what he deserves later on in the text, and this whole experience was important for him getting a wake up call (NOT saying I condone wives creating their own murder and framing their husbands). I just think Nick is written more believably, and more like a man we perhaps all know or know of. Amy is written like this otherworldly being that we cannot touch, and do not want to. I think Gone Girl is a feminist text in the sense it gets readers to analyze how they view female characters–bringing into question Amy’s multiple narratives and why they are there–but I do not think Amy is not a feminist character.

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    • I agree that the way Amy is portrayed throughout the novel highlights many sexist stereotypes about women. Amy goes from being the “Cool girl,” to the dependent wife who just wants to please her husband, to the psychotic, hysterical woman, back to the in-love, dependent wife. All of these identities have one thing in common—they all revolve around Nick, thus Amy’s identity seems solely to rely on her relation to her husband. While some might find her revenge on Nick somewhat freeing, “badass,” and indicative of independence, upon closer inspection, Amy is not free or independent at all—she still exists only in relation to Nick. Nick is all she thinks about and affects every aspect of how she lives her life. The change back to the “in-love” housewife is an even more sexist turn in the novel because it shows not only that Amy cannot hold on to her opinions and feelings (such as her hatred for Nick), but that she is just another stereotypical woman who’s ultimate goal is to find love. She is easily susceptible to Nick’s influence and does not seem to have any power/autonomy of her own. However, I agree that Flynn is very aware of these sexist stereotypes, and I do not think she is trying to reinforce them in her novel. Instead, perhaps by making the stereotypes so blatant, in combination with the fact that the characters are so unlikeable, Flynn might be critiquing the stereotypes. I think this book is almost sort of a parody of these black and white, boxed, stereotypes because the characters and their actions are so extreme, highlighting how extreme and outrageous these stereotypes are.

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    • I totally agree that Flynn is aware of her sexist overtones, but I think she’s pulling on way more than that. Flynn is asking her readers to seriously consider Amy’s critical, complex mental state that is irregular for either the average man or woman. People in the modern world fear labels, but there is a difference between a label and a diagnosis – as readers, at what point do we draw the line regardless of other external elements?

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  5. In this section of “Gone Girl”, Amy officially has set up Nick to make it seem as though he murdered her as Amy’s revenge for Nick cheating on her. Amy placed clues everywhere that Nick cheated on her to make him feel bad for what he did. In Amy’s section, Amy revealed that she knew all along that she was being cheated on, while Nick had no idea that Amy knew. I want to focus on when she told the readers that she saw him in the act of cheating right in front of her face. On page 233, she starts by describing how they had a romantic moment in the middle of town and how much Amy wanted 100% of Nick back. She believed that it was still a way, “to make this work”(Flynn). She then goes on to say explain the occurrence in the parking lot when she saw him, “press her up against a tree-in the middle of town-and kissed her”(Flynn). This is the same thing that Nick did to Amy when they were last together but Nick did it with a different women. This goes back to gender roles because Nick was the one dominating and overpowering the marriage while Nick was cheating on Amy and Amy is the one dominating and overpowering the downfall of Nick. Amy is taking over the patriarchal dominance in order to get revenge on what Nick did. During their marriage, Nick wanted everything, including sex, on his own terms and whenever he wanted without actually loving her and showing any affection towards her. This show that the gender roles have switched within a matter of time with Nick having no choice in what was happening.

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    • This comes down to the idea of what is good and evil and how every person has these morals built into them from the begging. People may know the difference and yet choose one side over the other in a fit of rage or revelation. Amy after finding out, has switched over to the side of evil intentions. Everyone has this inside of them, but most people know how to control these impulses and yet as we come to find out it seems like the past and the lies that Amy tells shows her true character. She is as Nick describes her a few times, “a psycho bitch”. Not to say that this is the only way she is perceived by him in the moment, but Flynn, does a very good job in convincing us that Nick has been the lesser of two evils all along and yet no one believed him and he is simply looked at as the guy who cheated on his wife.

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  6. This Is hilarious to say the least.Not just the writing itself but the characters and how who they are shift throughout the novel. We as readers allowed ourselves to believe the picture that “Diary Amy” drew and because Nick was not forthcoming with all the facts we as readers filled in the blanks( I understand now why this book was a bestseller; Before reading it I was under the impression that it was just the writing itself was intense). Flynn played us in the most artistic way possible; One of her main characters created a character that manipulated an entire community into hating a man she was “obsessively” in love with and pinned her murder on him by creating a person she was not. The real Amy made me believe she had no power over her husband, however she did not succeed in making me believe that was the end of the story. The characters all have depth and certain levels of understanding, but none like that of Amy. she created the story, how the other characters moved in the story and so far has thought the same way that many of those on her side and against her have as well. Not to mention sympathetic readers. Not only that but the lack of forth wall in this novel from the real, “psycho” Amy is hilarious and ends up digging a deeper hole for herself and her husband. By page 300, both characters have the possibility to make or break the people they have been in contact , although both parties in different context( the would be reporter by willful submission to interview and Greta and Jeff by possible theft). This novel breaks the idea of gender roles and what it means to be ” manipulative”, ” who can be manipulative” and their reasons as well. The changes in how the characters understand and move correlate with how the reader responds to the realization of the fact that Amy is not dead but in fact is alive and watch her husband relearn who she is and how powerful she is to the world around her

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  7. The narration took a complete 180 in this section of the novel. Amy starts to unravel her master plan and how she faked her own death to get back at her “terrible” husband. The way Amy looks now to the audience is kind of evil. She set this man up for a murder just to get away from him because, she wasn’t getting enough attention. She can be seen as almost psychotic at this point in the novel. She says at one point, “One hundred and fifty-two entries total, and I don’t think I ever lose her voice. I wrote her very carefully, Diary Amy. She is designed to appeal to the cops, to appeal to the public should portions be released” (238). When this sucker drops on us, first I think it had to be this way because, there is too much book left to go on without her voice. Second, the climax of the book here shows a completely new dark evil side to Amy when we once thought of her a just this sweet innocent girl who wrote very female oriented quizzes. She is really a sort of monster.
    I think Flynn makes Amy reveal her self like this to evoke these type of emotions from the people reading, the monster inside Amy has been released. And yet Amy keeps all her qualities in her meticulous ways of organization and gives minuscule details of how she planned everything out. Just for the simple reason of screwing with Nick. I also think this is a critique, by Flynn, in how narration from a woman is usually written as sweet and innocent, but when they are off the record more, we see the true side of what they really think. She wanted everyone to feel bad for her and by the climax, has tricked everyone into feeling the complete opposite and now feeling bad for Nick.

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    • I’m sure most people who read this book are dumbfounded when they realize that Amy faked her own death just to get back at Nick. You hit the nail right on the head that she is psychotic because really, only a person who is insane can come up with such a perfect crime. She is not the first person to fake her own death, but the way she does it is one for the books. Most people would not have the patients and energy to carry out this meticulous of a crime. I think the reader should really question Amy as a person. Most people no matter how angry and hurt they are at someone would never try to ruin their life and possibly have them killed. It makes one wonder if Amy has a soul or a normal human’s conscience?

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    • I agree that Flynn deliberately makes Amy the opposite of what we associate a stereotypical female character to be, “sweet and innocent,” but Amy is excessive to the point where the novel has become anti-feminist, in my opinion. It is always refreshing to read about a female character who does not adhere to her feminine gender role, especially one who tries to serve justice to her husband who disrespects her. Though I enjoy Amy’s desire to serve justice and gain lost power taken from her by Nick, Flynn took it too far and made Amy, in your words, “a sort of monster.” As you have picked up, as well as the rest of the class any reader at all, Amy is psychotic and evil. What is this saying about a woman who does not adhere to her innocent gender role? If a woman tries to speak out, she is an extreme, radical psychopath. Your comment proves the conception most readers have of Amy, which I have just explained, is an unfortunate choice Flynn has made in the novel.

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  8. In this part of the novel, we see the transition of “Diary Amy” into “Dead Amy”. We learn that “Diary Amy” was only a fabricated character and her diary entries are supposed to be used as evidence against Nick. On page 237, real Amy says that Diary Amy is “meant to be likable”, but it seemed as though the class consensus was that Diary Amy was very unlikable. I personally thought she was very contrived and unbelievable, that no real woman would write diary entries like that, and I was actually right. Amy’s transition into Dead Amy makes her more loose and relaxed, hiding the real psychotic Amy. Overall Amy has three personalities so far; the real manipulative terrifying Amy, contrived and sickly-sweet Diary Amy, and ugly relaxed Dead Amy. These different personalities conflict with Amy’s desire to be a “Cool Girl”, which she describes as the hot, carefree kind of girl she thinks men desire. All of these extreme depictions of personalities are tropes of society’s categorization of women, and Amy embodies all of them. Even in her depictions of being a Cool Girl, her own different personalities define them differently. The “giddy Cool Girl perspective” she has while writing the diary entries and creating Diary Amy critiques Andie for “pretending to be Cool Girl” (237), creating a really weird inception of personalities and pretend. Overall Amy’s character in her various charades seems to be suggesting that women are generally insincere and always pretend to be something that they aren’t in order to appeal men. Her various depictions of personality tropes are just categorizing women into different personality types, which simply isn’t the case, and I fully reject her constant judgements of personality and “coolness”, making her a terrible character in every way.

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    • This section of the novel is giving Amy the chance to be able to be who she actually wants to be instead of a fabricated person because diary Amy isn’t who she really is. Once she is “dead Amy” he becomes more relaxed for the first time in a long time, with herself because she didn’t have to be the “Cool Girl” that Nick wanted her to be. Her different identities gave er breathing room to recollect herself from all the fake love that she has been shown and given.

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  9. In Gone Girl, Flynn plays a lot with dramatic irony by bending traditional plot lines with power dynamics, gender roles and mental processes, all of which can be noted through Amy’s depiction of what it means to be a “Cool Girl” (Flynn 222).
    A “Cool Girl” is everything a man wants in a woman – to balance a perfect feminine-masculine facade that always manages to appear sexy and thoughtfully careless. Yet, as “Real Amy” (Flynn 225) describes, her journal depicts does not depict her as the “more interesting, and complicated and challenging” (Flynn 225) woman she truly is – it is just a made up “Cool Amy.” Amy is strategic and sharp and has been five steps beyond Nick for several years – in reality, he has never been in charge. Amy reigns superior in a patriarchal society that has torn and shattered her mind into a unreasonable deranged state: “I’d go from being the beautiful, kind, doomed, pregnant victim of a selfish, cheating bastard to being the bitter bitch who exploited all the good hearts,” (Flynn 284). Amy is aware of her outlandish revenge, though she cannot mend the broken pieces of her sanity which causes her to take beyond drastic measures – and this is not the first instance. Her relationship with Hilary Handy further delineates this type of obsessive behavior that causes her to punish those who she feels are greater than her status. It has always been about her need for unattainable perfection and idealization. So without complete sanity can Amy really be in total control without clear reason and stability?

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  10. In this section of the reading, the sudden shift in the story guides the reader to reflect and examine Amy’s behaviors and actions. The extent to which Amy had to labor in order to tell a convincing story gives us an opportunity to discuss some of the key components that made us believe Amy. I think Amy suffers from a case of narcissism. She’s a character that relies on the fact that she is beautiful and charismatic to ensure sympathy and to get what she wants. This behavior has allowed her to deceive array of people in the story. Amy has an uncanny craving for admiration; she needs to be the hero at all costs. This means outdoing not only her enemies, but also her friends, and family. For instance, when Hilary Handy one-ups Amy in the realm of boys, grades, and friends, Amy terrorizes Hilary’s life. Hilary predicts that Amy’s motive: “She got rid of me because I knew she wasn’t perfect. It made me wonder about you” (292). In other words. Amy needs to win and if not the best, at least appear to be the best.

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  11. While the shift in this novel does portray what we could consider as the “actual” qualities of Amy’s character, I believe that her painstakingly crafted diary entries may hold more truth of her actual character than we may originally think. This week we discussed the nature of Amy’s quizzes, and what it means to frame one’s mindset around a limited set of choices. “Diary Amy” does what is expected of her, trying to “win” at everything, as one going through a Cosmo quiz would try to get a desired personality. While she may not list it in “quiz form” as she laid it out before, she only provides herself with only three options. She states, “I won’t divorce him because that’s exactly what he’d like. And I won’t forgive him because I don’t feel like turning the other cheek”(234). While one could say Amy’s restricted mindset could merely be native to “Diary Amy”, it seems this concept of “winning” is the very motive of Amy’s crime, as she states, “Can I make it anymore clear? I won’t find that a satisfactory ending. The bad guy wins? Fuck him”(234). While “the big reveal” of Amy’s true intentions may give authoritative control to the “victim” of the cliche Dateline story, I think there underlies an even deeper purpose. Amy told us we were supposed to like Diary Amy, stating, “She was meant to be likable. Meant for someone like you to like her”(237). Although she was the “victim”, I absolutely hated her, but perhaps I wasn’t the audience she was intended for after all. The characters in this novel are scum, even the one’s portrayed to be “good”, and perhaps “Diary Amy” was to appeal to them. Perhaps Flynn through her portrayal of the sets of parents, Nick, Amy, and their contributions to this terribly messed up story is making a comment on how truly monstrous human nature can be, as well as the way we consume these sick stories as entertainment.

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    • I absolutely agree with all the points you made about Amy’s failed attempt to create a likable character in Diary Amy, overly contrived and sickly sweet. Separating Amy’s character as a writer from Flynn’s writing style, the unlikability of Diary Amy could just as much show Amy’s unsubtle and unconvincing writing skills, questioning her whole identity as a “writer”, as it could show the unsophistication of the plebeian readers. I personally hope that Flynn is just showing how phony Amy’s character is rather than exposing how most readers would be attracted to the meek and long-suffering Diary Amy, because I think that would speak profoundly about the submissive role of femininity in our society.

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