I know better than to think Addison’s protecting me. She wouldn’t care if Rose decided to pull my nails out in class. It’s the trailer trash comment that prompted a reaction. What kind of neighbor would she be if she let that one stand?
Gotta love the reasons adults choose to act. (p. 69)
What strikes me most about this quote from Abbie’s narration is how it managed to reconcile a consistent scenario across each narrator that I hadn’t managed to pick up on until it was exposed plainly in this moment: the threshold that must be crossed before one changes their disposition.
In this passage, Abbie tells us that Ms. Addison couldn’t care less about her well being – but that an assault on Abbie’s social/economic class (which Ms. Addison is presumably a member of) is enough for her to step in on the vengeful defensive.
She wouldn’t care if Rose decided to pull my nails out in class.
This graphic depiction is worth noting as it’s particularly tortuous and malicious, analogous to a lot of the violence we’ve been exposed to in prior chapters. Violence without provocation that’s expected to elicit sympathy from any human being.
What kind of neighbor would she be if she let that one stand?
I get the feeling that Abbie’s narration here comes with a bit tongue-in-cheek tone. Regardless, using neighbor (a quality that typically indicates similar economic class) as the identifier between the two characters is an interesting choice. Not schoolteacher (that would be expected to enforce the classroom) or even person. Abbie wants us to know it’s the trailers that bonds them, not their positions socially.
I think this perfectly prototypes a recurring theme: a dichotomy between humanity and class, and how they relate to identity. How do the characters of our story identify themselves, and how does that identity manifest itself into their opinions and actions towards others? How difficult or easy is it for them to sympathize with one another, and what catalyzes that moment?
Earlier, when Mari is pleading to her captor she attempts to appeal as both a citizen and a fellow human, she tells him: “You and I aren’t any different, Ted,” I say after a pause. “We’re both looking for a way to get out of an awful situation we never thought to be in.” (p. 37). Despite her efforts, only further harm becomes of her as he says “We are different.”
Finally, while Del and Finn talk late at night about Finn’s troubles, Del comments on the struggle of inks: I stare at the toes of my workboots. “You know, we’re never going to get it anyway.” (p.50). Despite the fact that his coworkers are inks, he suggests that he’ll never truly know them. Even as a neighbor, literally and economically, he faces a social/human boundary that he sees impenetrable.
Interestingly enough later on in this chapter, it’s after Abbie learns of the obstructed romance between Mari and Finn that she almost immediately decides to break Meche and Mari out of the inkatorium.