Study Guide

Dark Places Identity

By Gillian Flynn

Identity

The first line of Dark Places involves Libby trying to explain her identity to us: "I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it" (1.1). Throughout the rest of the book, the characters all try to explain themselves to us—Libby, Patty, Ben, and even the real murderer—and it's up to us to decide whether or not we believe what they try to show us. It's also up to us to put all the pieces of each person's identity together in order to see how we feel about the whole person, not just their dark places.

Questions About Identity

  1. Is Libby honest about how mean and terrible she really is? Why does she tend to focus on the negative aspects of her personality? What other sides does she have?
  2. How has prison changed Ben?
  3. Everyone views Patty Day differently. How do you see her? Was she a good mother?
  4. How does each character's name match his or her identity? Runner is an easy one to analyze; Lyle is a little more difficult.

Chew on This

Many members of the Kill Club believe Ben is innocent because he's shown them a different side of himself than he ever showed during the trial. During the trial, he tried to be the callous badass that he never actually was, but wanted to be.

Trey Teepano seems to be the only character who is secure in his identity and has no regrets as an adult. But it's easy for him to be sure of himself when he's in charge, making others do what he wants, instead of the other way around.