When Stella-Rondo returns to the family fold for attention and support after the breakup of her marriage, she easily reclaims her position as the pampered favorite. Though Sister lobbies wildly for recognition and respect, Stella-Rondo is more skilled at garnering sympathy, and she easily brushes Sister aside to win the spotlight. She is used to having her own version of the truth accepted without question, and with the exception of Sister, the entire family swallows her claim that Shirley-T. is adopted. Stella-Rondo’s insistence on her superiority is remarkable in light of the circumstances that brought her home. She claims that she left Mr. Whitaker, but Sister is convinced the opposite is true: “He left her—you mark my words,” Sister says. Yet the truth is certainly something Stella-Rondo will do her best to conceal.
Stella-Rondo’s position as the object of praise and approval has hampered her maturity and personal development. Her life has been marked by impetuousness, impatience, and a lack of commitment. Sister remembers Stella-Rondo’s inability to follow through on collecting pearls for her Add-a-Pearl necklace when they were children. “She’s always had anything in the world she wanted and then she’d throw it away,” Sister says. Stella-Rondo’s current situation with Mr. Whitaker seems to follow that pattern, although it is unclear who “threw away” whom. Stella-Rondo’s spoiled position in the family and insistence on appearing perfect lead her to ignore difficult problems and deflect troubling questions. If Shirley-T. is not adopted, is Mr. Whitaker the father? Were he and Stella-Rondo intimate while he was dating Sister? Why did the family suddenly move to Illinois? No one poses these questions, although Sister surely considers them, and Stella-Rondo’s stubborn avoidance is part of what drives Sister to leave home.