I don’t want to be rude but after the events of last chapter I kind of forgot Gansey wasn’t around, so reading the beginning of this chapter was a little like whiplash. We’re thrown immediately back into Gansey’s rich white guilt, which slowly becomes anger at Ronan for making him use his privilege.
I don’t want to keep talking about the fact that I’m a college student (have I mentioned that yet? I take classes and everything), but there’s this point where Gansey is driving in his car being all mad, and he goes “is it so hard to just go to class and do your homework?” and, like, yeah. It is. Just because you’re Mr. Gentleman and Scholar doesn’t mean the rest of us can just breeze through life. Okay, rant over. Back to the plot.
Gansey’s so pissed that he’s ready to slam on the gas pedal, and for a split second I thought he was going to let loose. But that’s asking for too much from him, especially after such a trying day. The kicker is that the minute he eases on the brakes, the Pig starts to die. Damn Ronan, and damn the Pig, apparently.
There’s no cell reception and he doesn’t know anything about car engines, so Gansey’s getting ready to walk to the nearest gas station when a pair of headlights comes up behind him. He expects the driver to get out of the car and help him, but, plot twist! It’s the man we love to hate, Barrington Whelk.
Gansey is like “Mr Whelk?” which made me laugh because calling him Mister is just…so counter to the way I speak about this man. And to how we as readers think about him. He’s a shriveled, sad little man and frankly I’d forgotten he was actually a Latin teacher. But, you know, he’s also an evil bad guy and he has a literal gun, so. I guess Barrington Whelk gets 10 villain points for actually following through on an evil scheme.
It was somehow difficult to process the fact of the gun. It was hard to go from the idea that Barrington Whelk was creepy in a way that was entertaining to joke about with Ronan and Adam to the idea that Barrington Whelk has a gun and was pointing it at Gansey.
“Well.” Gansey blinked. “Okay.”
This is the point where I was wishing for a little bit more emotion from Gansey, but also not, if that makes any sense. The way he’s just bemusedly cooperating is the definition of hilarity, but I also wanted there to be some kind of Clueless moment here. “I can’t lie on the ground, Sir, my chinos would be ruined!” I don’t know, I think it would be fun.
This emotionlessness goes away, however, when Whelk starts getting mad that he’s no longer getting away with Noah’s murder. This is when Gansey realizes this man, the one in front of him, is the one who killed Noah, and he finally starts to feel something. The fact that Gansey’s own life means less to him than Noah’s is not only emotionally devastating but also very stupid, because, as a quick reminder: Barrington Whelk is holding a literal gun.
And then he takes the safety off (cue internal screaming) and presses it to Gansey’s forehead (CUE INTERNAL SCREAMING), and Gansey has this beautiful moment of self-confidence and rebirth that you should totally go and read (page 324, in the paperback). It doesn’t help anything, obviously, because Barrington Whelk is a pile of human suck with absolutely nothing to lose.
When he said that, Gansey knew Whelk was going to kill him. That there was no way that someone could have that much hatred and bitterness in his voice while holding a gun and not pull the trigger.
(CUE INTERNAL SCREAMING)
But then Gansey flashes back to Ronan teaching him how to throw a punch—hilarious, because the lessons went so poorly—and because of this, when Gansey swings at Whelk he manages to connect and send the gun flying. There’s a quick scuffle and then another car comes driving down the road, headlights on, and Whelk runs away with Gansey’s journal and without his gun.
Gansey takes the gun and the Camaro miraculously starts, and so he drives home. Whelk knows Gansey knows, and he has nothing to lose. Gangsey, assemble.
Thoughts and Feelings:
So, here we are. The chapter where the Gangsey is split up, becoming one Gang and one Gansey, and as a result Gansey almost gets shot in the head. Stick together, guys. It’s best for all of us, me included.
I like this chapter a lot, and I think it’s because of a confluence of reasons. First off, Gansey’s complete and utter detachment when his life is being threatened. The perfect adjective for it is bemused, because he spends most of this interaction being like “Mr. Whelk? My Latin teacher? What are you doing here?” instead of the appropriate reaction, which is “hi please don’t shoot me.”
And I mentioned this in the summary but I think it’s worth repeating: the moment Gansey figures out Whelk is the one that killed Noah, the confusion and numbness goes out the window and he is ready to kill. The portrayal of friendship in this book is why I have so few friends; my standards are astronomical. If you won’t let your creepy high school Latin teacher hold a gun to your head to avenge my death, then we can’t eat lunch together. Sorry!
I apologize for this being a little scattered but I also want to talk about this quote:
The journal weighted his hands. He didn’t need it. He knew everything in it.
But it was him. He was giving everything that he’d worked for away.
I will get a new one.
Like, I’m sorry. This is such a beautiful moment. Gansey has been having these internal struggles over who he is and who he wants to be for so long, and he finally realizes that it’s this thing. This carefully curated love letter to the search for something fantastic, this thing that Blue can’t help thinking of when she tries to write Gansey off as just another rich asshole. His identity is caught up in this book (and in the Camaro, which we shouldn’t neglect in this analysis but we are because it makes everything too complicated), but the fact that he’s willing to let it go and rebuild his identity? SO IMPORTANT. I want the phrase “I will get a new one” shouted at every birthday party I have. I want it on my gravestone. I want it tattooed on my forehead!!
And then, of course, this moment is so beautifully juxtaposed by the image of Gansey, lying in a ditch, thinking about how much his thumb hurts.
Really, he’d gotten off light. But still. It hurt.
This is the duality of man. And, also, me every time I get a paper cut.
I can’t tell you how aggressively in love I am with the fact that Steifvater has created a narrative in which a teenage boy is allowed to be exactly what he should be: as stupid as an adult and as complex as a child, and growing, always growing. Also, still alive. Thanks for not letting him get shot with a gun, that would suck.
Okay this has gone on for far too long so I’m going to sign up but thanks for listening to my insane rambling okay byeeee:)
Best Character Moment:
“If you’d just asked,” Gansey said “I would’ve told you everything in there. I would’ve been happy to. It wasn’t a secret.”
The handgun trembled against Gansey’s forehead. Whelk said, “I can’t believe you’re saying anything when I have a gun to your head. I can’t believe you would bother to say that.”
Best Turn of Phrase:
Gansey was beginning to feel something somewhere in his gut. It didn’t feel like fear. It was something strung out like a rope bridge, barely supporting weight. It was the suspicion that nothing else in Gansey’s life had ever been real except for this moment.
Action: This chapter had a literal gun pointed at the literal head of a LITERAL MAIN CHARACTER. Literally action packed. 100/10
Magic: No magic except for the magic of self discovery, which we love. 6/10
Comic relief: Everything about this chapter was so morbidly funny I really don’t know what else to say about it. 8/10