At school, Elaine only sees Stephen when they line up. There’s a slight distance between them at home now too. Elaine knows she mustn’t try to talk to Stephen at school because boys get teased for spending time with their sisters or mothers. 

Although Elaine finds the girls at school intimidating, she makes friends with a girl named Carol. Carol tells Elaine about things Elaine has never thought of before, like which boys she believes have crushes on her and church. Similarly, when Carol sees Elaine’s house, she’s in awe of how different Elaine’s life seems. Carol tells people about how Elaine’s family has mattresses on the floor as if they are part of a foreign culture. 

Summary: Chapter 10

One weekend, Elaine brings Carol along to the zoology building, but Carol finds the oddities gross. Stephen has fun teasing Carol with the ox eye. Afterward, the girls go to Carol’s house, where Carol shows Elaine her mother’s new sweater twin set. Elaine doesn’t understand why it’s called a twin set, but she understands the twin-like nature of the separate twin beds Carol’s parents sleep in. Elaine notices how much tidier Carol’s house is than her own. 

Sometimes Elaine and Carol play with Carol’s friend Grace. Elaine stops going to the zoology building on weekends and plays with her new friends instead. At Grace’s house, Elaine and Carol always follow Grace’s lead on what games to play or else Grace fakes a headache. They color in coloring books with images of movie stars and play school with Grace as the teacher. Sometimes they cut out images of women from Eaton’s Catalogues and make collages of items for the women to own. Elaine quickly learns she’s meant to praise her friends’ collages and insult her own. 

Analysis: Chapters 6–10

Elaine’s description of her new life in Toronto is filled with examples of artifice and superficiality. The suburbs demand an unnecessary and false division between men and women. Whereas Elaine notes that her parents wore similar clothing in the wilderness, in the suburbs they start dressing differently because they have to meet the new societal demands placed upon them. At Elaine’s school, boys and girls have to go through separate doors, but since these doors lead to the same place, their separation is artificial and unnecessary. Carol’s parents sleep in twin beds as if to disguise the reality that married couples usually have sex. Grace’s games focus on worshiping an idea of femininity perpetuated by Hollywood and also a desire for material goods. Both the coloring books and the catalogue game reinforce the idea that adult womanhood revolves around beauty and domesticity. Just as the girls in Elaine’s readers weren’t complete or accurate depictions of girlhood, neither are the ones in the coloring books and catalogues.

While the move to Toronto affects her entire family, Elaine in particular has a difficult time adjusting because of the stringent and relentless expectations placed on girls. On a practical level, Elaine has to wear a skirt even in the freezing Canadian winter, making movement difficult. Female socialization also means trivializing her accomplishments, as Elaine learns when she watches Grace and Carol criticize their own collages. In addition, Elaine finds her introduction into the strict gender separation of early adolescence extremely isolating because it cuts her off from “masculine” interests and friendships, particularly her relationship with Stephen. Elaine and Stephen initially bond over their shared curiosity about bodily grossness, but Carol’s squeamishness forces Elaine to choose between the world of girls and her brother’s world of boys. Stephen, too, must abandon Elaine in public because the mere acknowledgement that he has female relations would lead to ridicule. Therefore, Elaine’s loneliness in her new room symbolizes how moving to Toronto has separated her from sharing space, curiosity, and friendship with Stephen, and, metaphorically, stereotypically masculine pursuits.