Study Guide

Dark Places Identity

By Gillian Flynn

Identity

I dyed my hair now, a white-blonde, but the red roots had grown in. (1.15)

For Libby, changing her hair color is like changing her identity. It's like putting on a wig and going out in disguise. Not only does it keep other people from recognizing her when she wants to lay low, but it keeps her from recognizing herself.

"Let's go, Baby Day," I said aloud. It's what I call myself when I'm feeling hateful. (1.16)

Libby tells us this, but this is the only instance of her actually doing this. Why does she consider this innocuous name an insult? What part of her personality does it remind her of?

After my mother's head was blown off, her body axed nearly in two, people in Kinnakee wondered whether she'd been a whore. (6.1)

Some victims turn into saints after death. But people immediately begin to disparage Patty's memory. Why? Is it because she's generally believed to be a bad mother?

"I'm not welcome here," Ben mumbled. (7.36)

Ben is such an outcast, he's even bullied by a coach. Does being bullied by an adult affect Ben's self-worth more than getting humiliated by his peers, Diondra and Trey?

It was his body, his hair. His f***ed-up faggoty black hair. (7.41)

Ben's self-esteem is very low. He realizes that changing his hair color doesn't actually change who he is. And he hates who he is, no matter the hair color.

It didn't even sound like the Ben I remembered, the quiet, bundled brother of mine. (8.11)

On trial, Ben sounds totally different to Libby. But did she really ever know him at all? It seems that Ben went to great lengths to hide his identity from his own family. What part of him is the true Ben?

"[Ben] is true grace under fire, and I love that he's able to make me laugh—make me laugh, when I'm supposed to be helping him—about the horrible conditions he endures each day." (16.50)

Different people see different aspects of Ben's identity. Why does he show this side of himself to his female fans, rather than to Libby?

"You're just like your mother, you know, so… cunt." (24.78)

Yikes. This clumsy insult comes courtesy of Libby's dad after she refuses to give him money. Ben also tells Libby that she reminds him of their mother, but in a much more complimentary fashion.

"Dad told me." […] "Dad? He's Dad now?" (26.41, 26.42)

We're not sure if Libby really sees Runner as "Dad" here or if this is just a slip of the tongue. We don't understand why she would have any affection toward him, considering what he called her a couple of chapters ago.

"People are going to forget all about the Krissi Cates bulls***, because you're the victim now." (37.23)

In Dark Places, many people actually want to be seen as victims. As farmers in poverty, the Day family garners no sympathy. But as victims, people actually try to help them.

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