Study Guide

Krissi Cates in Dark Places

By Gillian Flynn

Krissi Cates

Okay, let's get right to the point. Krissi is a stripper.

But it wasn't always that way. Krissi was once the subject of envy. Ben felt "She was probably one of those kids with a pool in the backyard, or if not a pool a trampoline" (7.62). And since he wants his own daughter to have a better life than he does, he wants to name her "Krissi" after this girl.

Krissi is a girl who is in an after-school art program Ben helps with. He likes her as a friend, until they kiss, after which Ben feels weird. He feels weird because he likes it. The kiss "felt so sweet and not at all weird and just nice" (7.68)—in contrast to what he gets from Diondra, who is rough and scratchy. But Ben knows it's not right, so he does the right thing and distances himself from Krissi.

It doesn't matter. Krissi lies about Ben molesting her. The '80s were pretty weird in a lot of ways. Not only was there a Satanic panic, which involved a national hysteria about the possibility that children might be abused in… um, Satanic rituals, there was also a trend of child psychologists insisting that people had repressed memories they could unearth. A doctor convinces Krissi to lie about her supposed molestation, and before you know it, every young girl has a story about Ben touching her in her bathing suit zone. Did any of it actually happen? Nope.

Ironically, Krissi grows up to be a girl who takes off her bathing suit in public. She may have lied about Ben molesting her, but she gives good tax advice. "At least the boob job was tax deductible" (12.32), she says. Maybe the experience of being told she was molested was traumatic in and of itself?

Krissi comes clean to Libby: she feels guilty about everything that happened. Libby won't forgive her, though. Why should she? Krissi feels guilty for herself, not because she almost ruined an entire family.

In a bit of symbolism, Krissi says her dad was "the biggest videotape wholesaler in the Midwest" (12.63). The most important blank tape he manufactured was Krissi herself. He allowed her to be programmed by the rumor mill, the police, and the child psychologists.

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