Summary: Chapter 29

Eleanor

Eleanor giggles when she sees Park at the bus stop.

Park

Park wants to sweep her in his arms.

Eleanor

Eleanor notices that she and Park are the same height, but that Park seems taller.

Park

Eleanor’s freckles are the color of her hair.

Eleanor

They talk about music as an excuse to stare at each others’ mouths.

Summary: Chapter 30

Park

Cal tries to convince Park to go to the basketball game, but Park doesn’t think Eleanor would want to go, and he doesn’t want to go anywhere without Eleanor.

Eleanor

DeNice and Beebi try to convince Eleanor to go to a dance, but Eleanor wouldn’t be allowed out and can’t imagine going anywhere in public with Park.

Park

Eleanor and Park try to do their homework together, but they keep getting distracted by flirting with each other. Park gets angry when he sees another nasty message written on Eleanor’s book. Eleanor thinks that Tina did it, but Park refuses to believe that. Park tells Eleanor that he and Tina used to go out, which makes Eleanor jealous. Park suggests that Eleanor might have written the obscene messages herself. Eleanor denies the accusation and, in self-defense, snaps back that she now realizes why Tina hates her so much.

Park

Park remembers that dating Tina helped pull him out of the lowest social caste. Kids used to call him racial slurs and insinuate that he was gay, but by dating Tina, he was insulated from insults. Deep down, Park is pleased that Tina still likes him, and shallow thoughts keep popping up, telling him to betray Eleanor so he can please the popular kids.

Analysis

Things with Richie are getting worse at Eleanor’s house, and Eleanor isn’t sure what she can do. On the one hand, Eleanor is scared for her family’s safety, and she wants to take control of the situation. On the other hand, Eleanor is scared that Richie will kick her out of the house again if she does the smallest thing to upset him. Eleanor got kicked out of the house the last time because she was typing noisily and because she was angry when Richie destroyed her typewriter. Richie began to threaten her physically, so Eleanor ran away. Eleanor’s mom is helped Eleanor stay at their neighbors’ house, since she realized that their own house wasn’t a safe environment for Eleanor. However, Eleanor’s mom is too scared of Richie to stand up for her kids. Eleanor’s mom’s strategy is always to try and smooth everything over. Keeping Eleanor out of the house had been part of this strategy, since Richie was so clearly agitated by Eleanor’s presence. By pretending that everything is okay, even when Richie is shooting a gun, Eleanor’s mom keeps herself tied into the situation. Because the typewriter event and its consequences are always in the back of Eleanor’s mind, Eleanor is scared of what will happen if she rocks the boat. However, she’s also scared of what will happen if she ignores what’s going on and doesn’t try to protect herself and her family.

While Eleanor’s home life is getting worse and worse, she is growing closer to Park. As Eleanor and Park become physically and emotionally more connected to each other, the construction of the story mirrors their closeness. In the beginning of the novel, the point of view alternated chapter by chapter, or the chapters were divided into long, clear segments. When the relationship begins to intensify, the perspective switches increase in frequency. When Park and Eleanor kiss, there is barely any physical or emotional space between them at all, and to reflect how intertwined they have become with each other, the story bounces back and forth between their points of view extremely rapidly, as though they are almost beginning to share one brain and one pair of eyes. The narrative style reflects how in sync with each other Park and Eleanor feel.

Just when everything seems to be going very well between Eleanor and Park, jealousy creeps into their relationship. Eleanor and Park treat their relationship as an insulated bubble, protected and separate from the social pressures of the rest of the school, and neither one of them wants to destroy that safe space. However, they can’t pretend forever that other people don’t exist, and that their relationship doesn’t exist outside the fabric of society completely. When Park defends Tina and reveals that he dated her, Eleanor is both hurt and jealous, since this fact shakes some of the few reliable aspects of her world that Eleanor feels she can trust. Eleanor knows that she likes Park and that Park likes her, and Eleanor also knows that Tina has been a cruel bully. But when Park tells her that he and Tina used to go out, Eleanor gets jealous. Her jealousy comes out in biting comments and sarcasm, especially when Park suggests that she wrote the obscene comments on her book herself. Rather than exploding directly at Park, she instead makes a jab at Tina, showing that the source of her anger isn’t Park’s insinuation, but her jealousy about his prior relationship.

When Park reflects on his relationship with Tina, he realizes that he still cares about how other people perceive him. He had thought that by dating Eleanor, he had proved that he was a better person, because being with Eleanor clearly meant rejecting the petty judgments and hierarchies of his peers. But Park hasn’t let himself admit until now that, deep down, he still does care what others think of him, and he wants to be accepted by others. Park realizes that Eleanor is the thing holding him back from being accepted by the popular kids at school, and the easy way back into their good graces is to leave Eleanor and return to them. Park recognizes that the part of him that wants to sabotage the relationship with Eleanor is shallow, and he’s frustrated with himself that this part still exists. He wants so badly to be the perfect, noble hero of his story and the kind of person who rises above any shallow concerns. He thought that the mere fact of his dating Eleanor proved this strength, but Park discovers that emotions aren’t that easy. Just by choosing to date Eleanor, the desire to be accepted by others hasn’t gone away. Park believes that dating Eleanor will wipe away all his desires to join the popular crowd, but these desires are deep-rooted inside him. They creep back in, so he has to figure out how to deal with them.