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STUDY GUIDE - THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS
Of Thirty-Six Ways of Avoiding Disaster, Running Away Is the Best. - Anonymous
The chapter begins with Carmen who had decided to take a walk to cool her blood. She chose to walk through the woods which were filled with cottonmouths and hoped one would bite her. She picked up a huge rock and heaved it into the creek. The rock, for a few minutes, obstructed the creekís flow, but then the water seemed to adjust itself by tucking the rock a little deeper into the creek bed. For a moment, Carmen thought about the family getting ready for dinner and fantasizes that her father would come to find her. However, when he didnít, she moved closer to the house, not wanting him to call the police and make and issue that would embarrass her. When she got to the house, she looked through the framed picture window and saw the father she had hoped would look for sitting at the table with his new family, saying grace and getting ready to eat. Once again, Carmen felt invisible in a family consisting of a mother, a father, and two children. She grabbed a rock and flung with all her might through the picture window, narrowly missing Paulís head. For a moment, her father saw her, she saw him, and they both knew. Then she ran away.
Bee wrote another letter to Tibby, exclaiming how much she loved the
outdoor showers, because she can look at the sky. She had even stopped using the
outhouse to keep from being enclosed. She wondered if she were a feral creature
and closed by saying she didnít think she were meant for houses.
The scene switches to Lena. She had just purchased a bag of pastries and was walking toward the forge where Kostos worked. She thought about how Kostosí Bapi wanted him to take over the family business, but Kostos was going to attend the London School of Economics. It made her sad that the family tradition was going to be broken, even though she was glad for Kostosí opportunity to attend school. She recognized that there was a mysterious chasm between this island and the world. As she approached the forge, she felt oddly self-conscious about her appearance and her heart began to pound when he appeared in the doorway. He nodded a little as a polite man would do, but otherwise, he ignored her. Finally, Lena called out to him, but he still didnít acknowledge her and she didnít know whether it was because he didnít hear her, or whether she had waited too long to speak.
The scene moves back to Carmen who has run back to the creek and settled on the far bank. She lay there for several hours, wondering if she should pray even though she thought of herself as The Girl Who Only Prayed When She Needed Something. She finally came to the conclusion that she had to go home, but she had left her purse with her credit cards in the house. So, she creeped back into the house at three in the morning and collected her stuff in complete silence. She walked to the bus stop and slept on a bench there until 5:00AM when the buses started running. She took a bus to Washington D.C. She thought she had arrived as the rational Carmen and she left as her as well. However, she also hoped that alternate-universe Carmen with her fun, single dad was having a better time than the rational her.
Carmen wrote to Bee and explained how she was in a mess she couldnít write about yet. She included the Pants with her letter and indicated that she thought they had not caused her to behave a like a decent loveable person. She hoped they would make Bee behave that way instead. She hoped also that the Pants would bring her good sense, because a little common sense is a good thing. Carmen thought Bee had every other charm in the universe and she only needed common sense.
Disaster is the key word for our characters in this chapter. Carmen runs away from her dad, because she feels like she doesnít fit into his new world. However, her choice is less that ideal and far from being good sense. Bee mentions in her letter how she has become a feral creature which is really far from good sense, and Lena tries to speak with Kostos, but doesnít use sense in how she approaches him. In the end, all three have already created these disasters in their lives or are about to. We, as the readers, can only stand by and hope the girls will do as Carmen suggests: wear the Pants well.Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version