Study Guide

Dark Places Guilt & Blame

By Gillian Flynn

Guilt & Blame

Psychotherapist Michael J. Formica wrote in Psychology Today that guilt is a wasted emotion. We think Libby would have something to say about that. There's a lot of guilt in Dark Places, and many of the actions occur so that people can rid themselves of this guilt. If they were comfortable stewing in it, Ben would still be in jail, the murder would be unsolved, and we'd have a really boring book. On the other hand, Formica wrote, "Clearing away the veil of guilt allows us to be more connected to what it is that we are experiencing." That's something he and Libby might agree on.

Questions About Guilt & Blame

  1. Libby feels guilty for giving false testimony, which helped convict Ben. But she was only seven years old. Should she feel guilty about this? Did she do anything wrong? What is her responsibility to her brother now?
  2. Is it fair that so many people in the Kill Club blame Libby for giving false testimony as a child? Why doesn't anyone try to find the person who coached her into doing it? Shouldn't that person be blamed?
  3. Krissi feels guilty for falsely accusing Ben of molestation. How much of the blame does she bear in this situation? Her mother and a psychologist also pressured her—should they be blamed?
  4. What share of the blame does Ben bear in the crime? He didn't stop Diondra from killing Michelle. Does Libby realize this? Does she forgive him?

Chew on This

Forgiveness doesn't come easy to Libby, because she feels so much guilt over what she did as a child. By forgiving Krissi or Ben, Libby would have to forgive herself, and she's not yet ready to do that.

Patty feels guilty about not raising her family better, so she makes a deal with a hit man to kill her. This bad decision starts a chain reaction of guilt and blame that affects everyone else in the book. You can't absolve guilt by committing a crime.

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