Study Guide

Sosie Simmons (Miss Illinois) in Beauty Queens

By Libba Bray

Sosie Simmons (Miss Illinois)

The Snake Charmer

Sosie's fierce, and she's a fighter. Before she says a word, she is swallowed by a giant snake. But she doesn't give up, even when she's inside the snake. She pushes herself back up and out of the snake's mouth. Seriously, that is fighting.

Sosie is deaf, and much like Nicole, she's used to acting a certain way to put others at ease. For her, that means act happy and inspirational, rather than angry. "People wanted to think you were so okay with it all so they wouldn't have to expend any energy feeling guilty. Sosie played her part, being the smiling, plucky, don't-worry-about-me, lip-reading Pollyanna." (12.2) Definitely some secret bitterness in there.

But she keeps it all bottled up because she associates rejection with a girl she once knew who had cerebral palsy. The girl's negative attitude had gotten her sent to a special school. If someone could be sent away for being angry at being treated differently based on a disability, Sosie's aim is to avoid that fate at all costs.

But survival has a way of putting things in perspective: "But things were different here in the jungle. It was as if the wheels were coming off the old Sosie." (12.15) Suddenly, there's no benefit to being likeable. Sosie kills birds for dinner, dances with abandon, and tries dating Jennifer. Much more fun than being a lip-reading Pollyanna.

Not a Sidekick

In some ways, Sosie's the opposite of her halfway-through-the-book girlfriend Jennifer. Jennifer is introverted, and Sosie's this expressive dancer. Jennifer has known she's gay from a young age, but Sosie doesn't see the point in labels: she's attracted to whoever she's attracted to.

For Sosie, it's not dating Jennifer that helps her transform, but breaking up with her. Sosie was someone who acted a certain way for other people, who was afraid of "being left out" (11.214). So to learn that she has to be on her own to come into her own is a big deal.

Still, even though Sosie realizes she'd rather be by herself than glued to Jennifer all the time, she makes a point to apologize to Jennifer and let her know their friendship is important, even though they're in the middle of a battle. No, not the breakup battle: the overall battle taking place on the island. That is one intense breakup.

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