Study Guide

Dark Places Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Gillian Flynn

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

They'd drive out of this crap town, to Wichita, where her uncle owned a sporting-goods store and might give him a job. (4.14)

Ben's small-town dreams are quaint: he doesn't dream of running away to New York City; he dreams of running away to Wichita. At least he's being realistic.

Some mornings [Patty] couldn't make her legs swing out from under the covers, the girls had to drag her, yanking her with dug-in heels, and as she made breakfast and got them somewhat ready for school, she daydreamed about dying. (9.3)

Daydreamed, as the Day family pun goes. This is a dream that runs in the family. Libby also daydreams of dying, and so does Ben. These are not happy dreams, people. But what else does the Day family have going for them?

"And that's part of the reason we're here today," Magda addressed the room. "To help bring some peace to that situation. And help. Bring. Ben. Home!" (16.38)

Libby hopes to forget about everything that happened in her past, but some members of the Kill Club actually hope to exonerate Ben, and they plan on enlisting Libby to help. Why do these people take this upon themselves? Ben's fate doesn't affect them at all. Do they have nothing else to do? Do people just need some cause they can get behind?

"I wish I could tell you something that won't make you… hate me again." He dropped his eyes, looking at the reflection of his chest in the glass. "But I can't." (18.77)

It's hard to have hopes or dreams while you're in jail. Ben doesn't even hope to get out, but he does want to have a relationship with his sister, which is something he's missed out on over the last couple of decades.

[Ben would] have to drop out of school and get a full-time job, which would be fine, some kid he knew quit last year and worked over near Abilene at the brick factory, got $12,000 a year." (19.14)

Here we get another glimpse at Ben's hopes for a future. Ben is simply trying to survive, so he doesn't have the luxury of dreaming of being rich or famous. He just wants to get by.

[Ben had] heard girls at school saying if you ate a lemon a day you'd have a miscarriage, and had thought about sneaking lemon into Diondra's diet Cokes and then realized that was wrong, to do it without her knowing, but what if she fell? (19.54)

This is a peek at Ben's dark side. For all the planning he's trying to do for the birth of his daughter, he also occasionally daydreams of Diondra having a miscarriage. That would sure make things easier.

And in her head [Patty] told herself, Don't hope, don't hope for too much. (25.77)

Patty is in the same boat as Ben, just trying to survive. She has coached herself not to hope, because she almost always ends up letting herself down.

"Ben baby, I am the mother of your child, right? […] So get me out of town. Get us all out of town. I can't do this without you. We need to go. Head west. We can camp out somewhere, sleep in the car, whatever. Otherwise you're in jail, and I'm dead from my daddy." (30.34)

Diondra uses Ben's hopes for a good life for his daughter to manipulate him. We're not sure why she wants to get away so badly, but she takes advantage of Ben in order to do it.

[Ben] jammed it in his pocket, got down on his hands and knees to reach under his bed, and saw only space where the bag of clothes had been. His daughter's clothes. (32.9)

As part of his plans for the future, Ben has been stealing clothes for his daughter. Even though he's planning for the future, this is maybe a little shortsighted, because Ben doesn't see how having a sack of girls' panties in his room could be seen as creepy.

He could spend the rest of his life begging forgiveness from Libby, looking out for Libby, his little sister, somewhere on the outside. Somewhere small. That's all he wanted. (41.9-41.10)

One more time, we zero in on Ben's ultimate hope—forgiveness from his sister. Because he's a Day, he takes a lot of the blame for the crime. And he knows he'll never be able to raise his daughter the way he wants to, so it's like his younger sister is the next best thing.