Study Guide

Dark Places Wealth

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I inherited $321,374 when I turned eighteen, the result of all those well-wishers who'd read about my sad story, do-gooders whose hearts had gone out to me. (1.5)

This is our first example of how Libby has been able to make bank off her family's tragedy. She almost seems to relish in the fact that people sent her money, and she wishes they still did.

"There is 982 dollars and 12 cents left in the fund. As I've mentioned before, had you been able to replenish it with any kind of regular work, we'd have been able to keep it afloat, but…" he tossed out his hands and grimaced, "things didn't work out that way." (1.30)

Libby hasn't just lived off the cash from donations—she has made it into a living. There's a fine distinction there. She didn't use the money to supplement her work; being a victim was her work, and it was her main source of income.

PS This is a legitimate business offer. (1.60)

When Lyle sends Libby an offer to pay her to appear at the Kill Club, he includes this little postscript. Libby tells us that she often gets less savory offers, from porn sites for example. But what she's doing with the Kill Club is still selling herself.

"I want $1,000."

"I could give you $700."

[…] I'd take whatever Lyle Wirth gave me, because otherwise I was looking at a real job, real soon, and I wasn't up for that. (1.114)

At least Libby is honest about her laziness, right? She knows she only has one skill to capitalize on, and that's selling her sob story.

You could leave with $2,000 easy. (1.116)

You can practically hear the ka-ching sound effect and see dollar signs in Libby's eyes when Lyle gives her this figure. She immediately starts a mental inventory of everything she can sell. The combination of cash and the word "easy" is too much for her to resist.

[Ben] had no money. Correction, he had $4.30 in his pocket, but that was it for him, for this week. His family had no money saved. They had a bank account that was always just short of empty—he'd seen a statement once where the balance was literally $1.10, so at one point his entire family had less in the bank than what he was carrying in his coat right now. (4.9)

Libby isn't the only one with money problems. In the flashback chapters, we see that issues with money run in the family. Just as Libby is primarily motivated by money, so is Ben.

I had rent coming up, and I'd need money for food soon. I could go on welfare, but that would mean figuring out how to go on welfare, and I'd probably sooner starve than deal with paperwork. (6.52)

Again, we get some humorous honesty from Libby regarding money and her laziness. Who says all people on welfare are lazy? Some people are too lazy to even go on welfare in the first place.

Diondra wore only Ralph Lauren socks—they cost, like, $20 a pair, a fact that turned Ben's stomach. (7.3)

Ben has probably never had $20 in his pocket at one time, so Diondra's outrageous spending habits disgust him. What's wrong with socks that come in a six-pack from Wal-Mart?

Ben thought that was how you could tell the difference between most people. […] It was whether you cared about quarters. (15.9)

Diondra's family will just throw quarters away, another instance of wastefulness Ben can't believe. He has to save every coin he finds. What does he see in Diondra, anyway?

The man was obsessed with cash. Even in a rare fatherly moment, grudgingly playing Monopoly with the kids, he'd send most of his time sneaking money out from the Bank, clutching the bright orange and purple bills in his lap. (25.2)

Here is one final example of the Day family's obsession with cash. Runner's so greedy that he even steals Monopoly money. The difference between Runner and Patty, though, is that Runner would cheat his family to get ahead, while Patty only wants her family to have enough so that they can get by.

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