Study Guide

Dancing on the Edge Lies and Deceit

By Han Nolan

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Lies and Deceit

"Hey," he said. "There ain't no dance classes."

"Huh?" My mouth dropped open.

"You understand? As far as Gigi knows, there ain't no dance classes." (4.75-77)

Granddaddy Opal is obviously trying to be tongue-in-cheek here, but for a girl who struggles with knowing whether she's real or not, it's not exactly the greatest choice of words. As a result, Miracle goes on to fear the imaginary eraser that chases after her on her way home from dance.

"I guess we'll just go on pretending I don't even know you," he said, bending down to help me pick up his tools, his voice calming down again. "Even though you're living under my roof all the day long. We'll just pretend and say nothing to her. Long as we ain't saying nothing, we ain't bringing it to her mind, and she don't have to do nothing about it." (6.30)

Granddaddy Opal and Miracle have a pretty cool relationship, but it's kind of chilling to think that Gigi is so absent and oblivious that she doesn't even know it. Like the lie about the dance classes, the fact that Miracle's most significant family relationship is also a lie to Gigi puts a lot of cracks in the otherwise solid foundation that Opal's trying to build for her.

"They have to believe I'm different," [Gigi] said. "That I don't eat or sleep or go to the bathroom like normal people. They don't want to see me walking around town in a pair of jeans licking on an ice cream cone. Someone like that wouldn't be able to contact the spirit world. Understand? They have to believe it's possible. They have to believe or it won't work." (8.1)

We think we can all agree that Gigi's worldview here is ridiculous—everyone sleeps, goes to the bathroom, eats ice cream, and wears pants—but in the delusional world of Gigi Land, this makes perfect sense. She's so obsessed with projecting a specific image that nobody—not even her family, and perhaps not even herself—knows who she really is.

I wondered about her and that Mr. Eugene Wadell. She had been going out with him a lot. She met him at one of her Other Realms conferences and at first she said she didn't like him because he kept following her around and staring at her. Then it turned out both of them had the same spirit guide, Rasmus […].

Aunt Casey told me it wasn't like Gigi to fall for such a line and that he must have some good qualities we didn't know about. (10.16-17)

Eugene Wadell seems to be quite the charmer. We might not think "We have the same spirit guide" is a super thrilling pickup line, but for people involved with the occult, it's probably the ticket to a first date. Regardless, it seems possible that Eugene's telling Gigi what she wants to hear and manipulating her into having a relationship with him.

By the middle of the year, word of my abilities as a love magician reached the high school and I began to get their business as well. Everyone knew me, knew my name. I was Miracle, the love magician. It was wonderful to hear people call my name without having eggs and rocks hidden behind their backs. It was fun saying things that I knew no one understood […] It was fun when the girls all did what I said. (16.2)

While there are a lot of disturbing things about Miracle's love magician charade, probably the most disquieting factor is that she's unknowingly become Gigi. She creates a persona for herself, thrives on the attention, and loves manipulating people for her own entertainment. The fact that she's created a very elaborate lie doesn't seem to matter, just like it doesn't matter to Gigi.

Juleen nodded. "People see what they want to see […] It's all illusions, magic tricks. People see what they want to see and don't see what they don't want to see. The whole school knows now. They know what you really are. They know you're a fake." (16.79)

They don't call Juleen "The Brain" for nothing. Gigi's (and Miracle's) magic acts may be lies in themselves, but they don't work unless their clients believe them, and that mostly comes from them lying to themselves by "seeing what they want to see."

"That's right, and I can cure her in two days," Gigi said, stepping around to the back of my chair and bumping the orderly out of the way so she could hold the chair herself. "She doesn't need some prying, nosy doctor getting into our business. All those silly questions he asked me. It's not his business, and I told him so." (19.15)

Why are we getting the feeling that Gigi wanting Miracle out of the hospital has more to do with her fear that Miracle will find out the truth about the family's secrets than her wellbeing? Gigi's somebody who doesn't deal very well with the truth on her own, and doesn't want others to hear it as well.

Aunt Casey waved her hand. "Oh, we never told Miracle. We didn't tell her anything. Did we, Miracle? Tell him. You never knew a thing. It was just a suspicion anyway. We could never know for sure. We made a pact, we'd never tell. Gigi said for us to make her death a good thing and it was, we have Miracle." (24.105)

For her next trick, Casey Dawsey will tell Dr. DeAngelis about the lie she and Gigi told Miracle, while lying in the process. Having Miracle hasn't always been a "good thing" for Casey—in fact, it's been torture.

I wouldn't react to made-up stories. They were acting, putting on a show, just like in the TV room. I didn't know this woman they were talking about […] I wouldn't look at lies. (25.1-3)

By this point, Miracle has to be super confused. She's been told the same story about her mom's death thousands of times, and now she's hearing for the first time that things might not have gone down the way she thought. As this statement reveals, she no longer is able to tell the difference between the truth and lies when her family speaks to her.

"But then how did show know?" Aunt Casey turned her face to Dr. DeAngelis. "If we didn't tell her, how did she know?"

"But you did, all of you did." Dr. DeAngelis flipped through his notes as if the words he was saying were in there somewhere. "She could read the truth in your actions, your features, your words, even the words that were left out. Her mind simply filled in the blanks." (27.17-18)

It's ironic that in their quest to keep Sissy's suicide a secret from Miracle, Aunt Casey, Gigi, and the rest of the family nonetheless tell her the truth through their behavior and interactions with each other. Oops.

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