Jon shows up at the Swiss Chalet one day and invites Elaine for beer later. When Jon asks Elaine if she’s seen Mr. Hrbik, Elaine says she hasn’t, and Jon jokes that he’s disappeared into Susie’s pants. Elaine realizes that Jon is speaking to her like she’s one of the boys. As they leave, Elaine longs not to go home by herself. Jon asks if he can walk her home, and Elaine starts crying. Jon takes her back to his place for coffee and kisses her. They have sex. 

Analysis: Chapters 51–55

Elaine and the men in her drawing class mock Susie out of jealousy. Throughout her life, Elaine has always been the special girl when it comes to male opinions, but Susie has Mr. Hrbik’s attention. Elaine’s snap judgements of Susie portray Susie as both too stupid for university but also as a conniving siren, which suggests Elaine’s assessment of Susie comes not from evidence but from Elaine’s own biases. The boys in the class are also jealous when they turn on Susie when she chooses the older, foreign man over them. They believe she should choose one of them because they are younger and Canadian. Either out of maturity or disinterest in Mr. Hrbik, Marjorie and Babs demonstrate an alternative reaction to jealousy: sisterhood. Marjorie and Babs support Susie’s joy in the romance and immediately turn on Mr. Hrbik when he makes her cry, concerned with a girl’s happiness over men’s approval. Of course, with Elaine’s understanding of how women relate to each other, she cannot see the wisdom in Marjorie and Babs’ behavior. 

Elaine’s understanding of Stephen changes in Chapter 52 when she realizes his disregard of society puts him in danger. Stephen chases the butterfly into the military site because he doesn’t consider humanity worth regarding, and therefore doesn’t consider the wall an important boundary. Stephen is surprised that his explanation about the butterfly doesn’t protect him because he truly doesn’t understand that society expects dishonesty, and the people assume he is lying to them. During Elaine’s childhood, she learned to distrust other people thanks to her disappointments with the likes of Cordelia and Mrs. Smeath, and she even learned to lie to herself about her own motivations as a coping mechanism. Stephen, however, never learned the protective nature of lying and recognizing lies in others, and therefore doesn’t understand why the soldiers don’t believe him. Elaine finds Stephen’s silence about his arrest in his letters to her disconcerting because it means that he considers the matter trivial and learned nothing from it. Less obvious to Elaine is how alone Stephen is in his letters. In placing himself above his classmates, Stephen has made no friends and appears to have no support network in university. Similarly, Elaine has no female friends at this point in her life because she believes herself above other girls. 

Elaine’s panic at Cordelia’s success echoes the rule of the twin comic: only she or Cordelia can succeed. Throughout her entire coffee break with Cordelia, Elaine frantically makes comparisons about their appearances and accomplishments and worries when she believes Cordelia has won this unspoken competition. However, nothing about their meeting requires competition: Elaine doesn’t want to become an actress nor Cordelia a painter. While Cordelia got to choose her “distinguished look,” Elaine wears the uniform from her summer job, and so we can’t actually judge their current appearances by the same metric. Cordelia’s bubbly excitement and over emphasis on her few lines suggests that her theater career isn’t really as great as she makes it sound and therefore requires forced enthusiasm to enhance its impressiveness. What really concerns Elaine, then, is how much Cordelia has improved since their last meeting. The last time Elaine saw Cordelia, Cordelia was miserable and floundering, but now she has direction and hope, whereas now Elaine feels miserable and directionless. In the comic book logic of twins, only one girl gets to be the pretty and happy girl, and Elaine here worries that she has lost. 

Throughout her relationships with Mr. Hrbik and Jon, Elaine plays a passive role, allowing them to control the direction of the relationships and causing emotional strain. Mr. Hrbik determines every aspect of his relationship with Elaine, from what days they see each other, to where they eat, to its exclusivity. Although Elaine doesn’t pursue Jon, she signals her interest in him with tears and silent need, which allows Jon to take the lead in their relationship. Elaine’s treatment of men as forces of nature as opposed to people explains her passive stance with Mr. Hrbik and Jon. When Mr. Hrbik’s starts controlling how Elaine dresses and talking about the future, Elaine enters into a relationship with Jon, as if stepping away from a dangerous patch of woods to a simpler path. For the first time, Elaine’s passive behavior with men has major consequences because Mr. Hrbik’s behavior hurts her. Because Elaine relishes knowing things other women don’t, she carries the knowledge that Mr. Hrbik continues to see Susie and also the emotional labor of his complaints about her. Furthermore, as evidenced by her constant exhaustion and embarrassment at seeing Cordelia, Elaine is truly miserable in this relationship.