Summary: Chapter 16
Before Elaine left for the retrospective, she told Ben that she didn’t want to go. Ben encouraged her not to, but Elaine said that as a woman artist, it was difficult for her to have a retrospective in the first place, so she must go.
Elaine meets with Charna, who works at Sub-Versions. Charna wants to hang the paintings thematically, but Elaine would prefer a chronological order. Worse for Elaine’s nerves, a reporter named Andrea arrives to interview her.
Andrea asks Elaine about being a woman artist of her generation, which she assumes to be the seventies. Elaine insists that her generation is the forties because that’s when she grew up. Elaine can sense that Andrea wants to talk about being a woman artist and facing discrimination, and Elaine does everything she can to avoid this narrative. She insists all painters feel devalued and that her husband supports her. She emphasizes her male teacher who taught her to draw naked women. When asked why she paints women, Elaine states that painters paint women. Elaine believes what Andrea is really doing is insulting her clothes and art.
Summary: Chapter 17
At Grace’s house, Cordelia, Grace, and Elaine play the Eaton’s Catalogue game. Cordelia is particularly fascinated with the brassieres because her older sisters have been going through puberty. She tells the other girls about periods, but Elaine, Grace, and Carol don’t believe her. Cordelia also claims men have carrots between their legs that shoot seeds that make babies. The story seems implausible. Elaine, from her years watching her father study insects, has some idea of which aspects of this story might be true. Cordelia also tells them that boys put their tongues in girls’ mouths when they kiss them. Elaine assumes they would only do this to be repulsive.
Summary: Chapter 18
Mrs. Smeath invites Elaine to go to church with the family that Sunday because she’s heard that Elaine’s family doesn’t go to church. Elaine agrees because it means she will have time alone with Grace, who is still the most popular girl in their group. Elaine’s parents don’t like the idea because they think of church as brainwashing and religion as causing strife and bigotry. Nevertheless, they agree to let her go.
At church, Elaine imitates Grace in order to properly participate in the service. When they leave the service for Sunday School, Elaine is nervous because she doesn’t know any of the psalms the other students were supposed to have memorized. However, the teacher kindly tells her she hopes to see her next week. Elaine feels included.