Eleanor and Park | Study Guide

Rainbow Rowell

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Eleanor and Park | Chapters 37–39 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 37

Eleanor

Eleanor notes that she and Park are never alone. Her mom notices the new mascara Eleanor is wearing, and Eleanor says that Tina gave it to her. At school people notice Park's new look. DeNice and Beebi like it. Eleanor thinks Park looks like himself but "with the volume turned way up."

Park

Park also notes that he and Eleanor are never alone. They try to walk very slowly from the bus to Park's house, just to have some time together. Park hopes things will be easier when he has his driver's license. Meanwhile, his dad isn't speaking to him. He tells Eleanor, "he's mad at me ... for not being like him." Eleanor finds that hard to believe. Park says they got along for a while, but only because Park "finally got into a fight," which his dad approved of, and because "he thought my mom was being too hard on you." Although Park feels like a disappointment to his father, Eleanor says, "Your dad loves you." Park observes that "it seemed to really matter to her."

Eleanor

Park's mom says that Eleanor's hair looks nice. Eleanor has been taking better care of it, using the conditioner Park's mom gave her. Eleanor gets another mini-makeover, with different eye shadows and hairstyles. As Park's mom fusses over her, Eleanor thinks, "I should have had a family like this." Having such thoughts "only sometimes made her feel like a traitor."

Chapter 38

Eleanor

Wednesday nights are "the worst" because Park has tae kwon do, so Eleanor can't see him. It's too cold to be outside, so her siblings are restless, and "when Richie came home, there was no place for anybody to hide." Richie says that Maisie can stay with him while he watches television, but Eleanor's mom sends her into the bedroom with the other kids. Maisie says that she and Ben know Eleanor has a boyfriend. She says, "it's not fair that you get to leave all the time" to visit Park. Eleanor's terrified they'll tell her mom and then she'll be punished. The kids want to come with her when she visits Park, but she says that's impossible. "I can't help you," she says. "I can't even help myself." The kids then demand to borrow her makeup and comics in exchange for their silence about Park. She agrees.

Park

Park echoes the idea that Wednesdays are "the worst." Not only does he miss Eleanor, but he feels bad because his dad ignores him during dinner and tae kwon do. Park doesn't know if it's because he started wearing eyeliner or because "he had spent sixteen years acting weak and weird and girlie." But Park keeps wearing eyeliner to school, though he washes it off at home.

Eleanor

Eleanor realizes that it's only "a matter of time" until she loses Park, especially now that Maisie and Ben know about him. She "didn't have anywhere to hide her secrets. In a box, on a bed. At Park's house."

Chapter 39

Eleanor

On Thursday, when Eleanor goes to Park's house, he's all excited about Elvis Costello, and she agrees to go into Park's room to listen to his tape. Park's room makes Eleanor nervous; it feels "incredibly private." While they talk and listen to music, Eleanor asks whether Park misses his other friends, since now he spends all his free time with her. "I've never really missed anybody but you," he says. She wants to tell him that Maisie and Ben know about them and that "their days [are] numbered, et cetera," but she doesn't. Instead, they listen to the Elvis Costello song "Alison."

Park

Park and Eleanor continue to listen to new wave music, and then they kiss, with a pile of his cassettes between them. He pulls her tighter, and some of his cassettes crack under their weight. "Oh god ... look what we did to Meat Is Murder," Eleanor says. Park doesn't care.

Eleanor

When Eleanor goes home, she sees that her little sister has taken full advantage of her cosmetics. Maisie is wearing perfume and a ton of makeup. Eleanor thinks she and Park are "definitely going to get caught. Talk about a house of effing cards." Then she starts thinking about her weight and worries that there's "no safe place on her torso" for Park to touch. Despite her self-consciousness, though, she still wants him to touch her again, even if he decides she is "too much like a walrus" to date.

Analysis

The central focus of these chapters is the rush toward disaster. Eleanor is aware that her time with Park is limited. Her siblings want the benefits she has—namely, the ability to leave their prison of a home—and they may expose her even if they don't intend to.

This section also contains another escalation: Eleanor has seen Maisie sit on Richie's lap before, which was disturbing enough. But now he's inviting only Maisie to stay with him and watch TV at night. None of the other kids are welcome. The author never directly addresses the possibility of child molestation, but it's bubbling right under the surface. Eleanor may choose to ignore it, but she realizes Richie may be paying Maisie a dangerous kind of attention.

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