Study Guide

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Quotes

By E. Lockhart

  • Betrayal

    "[…] It's not like they had decided to ignore me. You know how it feels when someone is ignoring you. You can feel they know you're there. This was like they didn't register me as a person they had ever known." (23.11)

    Even if Star is dumb, Frankie can't help but be shaken by her account of what happened when Dean broke up with her. After all if it can happen to one, it can happen to all. Frankie could be in just as precarious a position. And yet, she finds a very different ending than Star does. Why is that?

    When I act the way I acted, Matthew doesn't like me as much as he does when I fall off my bicycle. (24.55)

    It's a little disturbing to Frankie that Matthew seems to like her best when she's playing the swooning princess, in need of a prince to come slay the dragon for her. Which makes us wonder: why does she bother playing the swooning princess in the first place? Is Matthew really worth it?

    Frankie was glad he was gruntled. And she was angry that he wouldn't tell her why. Both. (33.51-52)

    Even when Frankie pulls off her first awesome prank, she can't share the moment with Matthew. Well, that's what happens when you and your boyfriend are lying to each other, sweetheart. She's really put herself in a tough position here.

    Eventually, she figured, he would suspect someone outside the pack and finally accuse her, angry but admiring her genius, acknowledging her as the superior mind. (34.3)

    Frankie's not just trying to totally mess with Alpha. Here we see the real motivations for her betrayal at work. She wants recognition, acknowledgement, props.

    "I was, I—this came up, and I promised Alpha. You and I didn't fix anything certain, did we?" (39.24)

    So much for her prince charming coming to save her at Thanksgiving. Matthew keeps saying that he cares about her, but Frankie comes to realize that he doesn't want to be a part of her world. That feels like a betrayal to Frankie because it goes against what she thought having a boyfriend would mean. It's, to be quite frank, not all it's cracked up to be.

    In Matthew's backpack was a printout of the emails between Frankie and Porter. (39.30)

    Ouch, that's gotta sting. Why would Matthew have a printout of her conversations with Porter? There's something very shady going on in this relationship, and the betrayals are going back and forth more than terms of endearment. So why does Frankie stick it out?

    Yes, that was the most likely conclusion. Porter had given Matthew a copy of those e-mails. But why? (40.40)

    In the double whammy of betrayals, Frankie finds out that her current boyfriend is in cahoots with her ex-boyfriend. This just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

    "What were you being loyal to, huh? Or were you jerking people around to make yourself feel powerful?" (43.112)

    Matthew won't accept Frankie's rational explanations. He's never been able to accept her thoughts as valid, and he's not going to start now. It's the final nail in the coffin of their relationship, and it's the culmination of Matthew's one big betrayal all along—he's dating her for his own selfish interests—not because he's genuinely into her.

    "He's getting expelled! You lied to me!" Matthew grabbed a small metal bowl from the nurse's desk and threw it against the wall. It hit the floor with a clatter. (43.121)

    Matthew is none too pleased when he finds out that Frankie is the culprit. Instead of being impressed by her brainpower, he's just disgusted. He won't see her as brilliant, which is what she wanted out of their relationship all along.

    Matthew would rather let her keep the shirt than interact with Frankie for another second. He hates her that much. (46.56)

    In the end, there's nothing between Frankie and Matthew. It's like they never shared any kind of intimacy. And we're left wondering if they did. After all, if they had really shared something special, you'd think they could maybe work through this. But maybe there's nothing to save here at all.

  • Lies and Deceit

    "Don't worry," she told him. "I am exceptionally good at keeping secrets." (12.125)

    Double meaning alert. Frankie is good at keeping Matthew's secrets, but she's also excellent at keeping her own. We're thinking maybe Matthew should have picked up on a bit of foreshadowing here. But you know what they say about hindsight being 20/20.

    Matthew must know she'd been lying when she talked about going to the party with Porter. Because he knew where Porter was going that night. (25.82)

    Why would Matthew pretend not to know Porter? There are quite a few lies that Frankie has to investigate when it comes to Matthew. We're beginning to wonder why she remains in a relationship where there's so little trust.

    "All right. I can't work myself up about the chess guys. Peter-Porter what's-his-name better be glad he went to bed early, though." Matthew laughed. (26.37)

    Again with the pretending not to know Porter's name. Eesh, Matthew is always just lying between those good-looking teeth of his. Is he really such a stand-up guy?

    "I have a project for my Cities class," Frankie lied […] She was astonished at how easy it was to invent a plausible answer. (28.19)

    Frankie can lie her way out of a situation, too. It's a bit scary how easy it comes to her here. But then again, once you tell one lie, it can require you to tell a bunch more. And if Frankie lies enough, it'll become second nature after awhile.

    She should have known this would happen. How had she not foreseen? Alpha was taking credit. (34.33-34)

    In order to retain his role as top dog, Alpha pretends that he was the one behind all these pranks after all. Because, you know, he's still got to keep that illusion of control. This lie strikes us as sadder than a lot of the lies that have come before. Alpha is clearly in over his head here, and we know it'll all come crashing down eventually.

    It was only the panopticon that was making her feel so paranoid, she said to herself. That, and the guilt of systematically lying to her boyfriend since the day she had first followed him. (36.6)

    Even though she justifies it in her head, Frankie still feels kind of bad about lying to Matthew. But we guess he's lying to her as well, so it's all fair game. Wait. That doesn't sound right.

    "Matthew and I had an argument," she lied. "We made up, but it was a whole thing." (36.23)

    Trish is so kind, but she wouldn't understand Frankie's more transgressive pursuits. She doesn't understand why Frankie has to work so hard to change things when they're okay as they are. So Frankie has to cover up her exploits with yet more lies, all in the name of making things go smoothly with her bestie. Does that seem like a good idea to you? What does she think will happen if she spills the real beans to Trish?

    She couldn't ask him about it. If she did, he'd know she'd looked in his backpack. Frankie sunk into her chair, a tangle of guilt and anger—but she didn't say a word. (39.35-37)

    What we're interested in here is the lie Frankie's telling by remaining silent. The more she doesn't share her real feelings with her boyfriend, the more she's deceiving him, and the more distant the two grow. Sure, she doesn't want to fess up to the huge secret she's keeping from him, but her swallowing her feelings isn't helping matters either.

    It wasn't that he no longer had a secret from her. In fact, Matthew's secret was getting bigger and bigger—and Frankie finally had to admit to herself that he wasn't ever, ever going to tell her. (40.63)

    Even though Frankie desperately wants to connect with Matthew over the pranks (because it's a shared activity!), they're both lying to each other about being involved in all the shenanigans in any way. That's quite the catch-22. And check out how lies can reveal a great deal about the liar, too. What Frankie learns from Matthew's secret is that he's not as into her as she hopes he is.

    "You lied about where you were going, you lied about knowing Porter, you pretended you had nothing to do with anything that happened. You've been lying to me every single day since we met." (43.111)

    Frankie has a pretty good defense when Matthew gets so upset with her for lying to him. After all, hasn't he been doing the very same thing?

  • Dissatisfaction

    But as she looked at him laughing with Callum, Dean, and Alpha, Frankie remembered how Matthew had called her a "pretty package," how he'd called her mind little, how he'd told her not to change—as if he had some power over her. (13.7)

    Okay, can we just take a moment to ask the question we've been dying to ask: why in the world is Frankie dating this dude in the first place, if all she does is complain about how he sees her? Why would she want to be with someone who belittles her, if she's such a budding feminist? We smell a little hypocrisy coming from Frankie, and it does not smell good.

    And the dogs would mix juice and soda together, or quiz each other on dates for history, or draw ridiculous doodles in their notebooks, or make ornate paper airplanes instead of studying—and Frankie would be a part of it. Almost. (15.35)

    The "dogs" have such a nice group of friends and Frankie likes sitting with them at lunch, but feels like she's only accepted on a conditional basis. After all, she's just a girlfriend. But, we'd like to point out: she could go make some more friends of her own. Trish would be happy to include her, after all. What's so dissatisfying about that?

    Don't sound whiny. Don't sound defensive. Don't sound pitiful. Don't sound angry. I can't say any of the things I feel, because none of them are any good. (24.58-59)

    This girl knows how to self-edit. Instead of letting Matthew know just how unhappy she is that he's ditching her, she keeps it in check.

    And even though Frankie found the meetings disorganized and their Halloween ideas dumb, she wanted to be part of it. They had such a large part of Matthew's heart, and Matthew had them. (26.47)

    It's a bummer that Frankie can't be a part of the group that Matthew's involved in. She can't even be considered because she's a girl. But we have to wonder why she wants to be a member of the group in the first place. For a girl who claims to want to take down the old boys' club, she sure wants to be a member of it. Does she want to make them more inclusive, or is it that she really wants to be part of something that's exclusive?

    It was difficult to explain. "They won't let me in," Frankie finally said. (27.24)

    You're right, it is a bit difficult to explain. Frankie wants to feel included in an exclusive group. Frankly, it's a bit of a paradox. No wonder she's so confused.

    They were going through life together—whether the pranks they pulled were dumb or brilliant. She was going through life with no one. (33.23-24)

    Ah, the sense of brotherhood. Even though the dogs are kind of ridiculous (we mean, English muffin eating dares?), Frankie still envies what they have. But couldn't she have it without joining the Order? We mean, it's not like she's without friends. She could go find some more and choose to go through life with them.

    Frankie felt an incredible sense of happiness as Richmond droned on. She was busy—absorbed for the first time, seriously, in what she was doing. (38.36)

    Frankie doesn't derive satisfaction from her love life or her social standing. She derives it from what she is able to achieve. That makes her different from the rest of the kids at Alabaster, who seem totally content with the status quo.

    Frankie began to sweat, and found as she threaded her way through the dark that instead of feeling superior and involved, as she had last time she'd rolled up the twine—she felt lonely. (41.7)

    Even after all that Frankie's done to try to fit in with Matthew and his friends, no one knows that she's a part of their group. And no one cares about the symbolism she's put into all her pranks. It's all gone unnoticed. So what does that leave us with? Can Frankie be satisfied knowing that her efforts went unacknowledged?

    "I didn't want to be left out," she went on. "You and your club. You're so exclusionary, Matthew, it was driving me crazy. That I could be your girlfriend all this time and you'd never tell me, never let me in. Like you thought I wasn't worthy." (43.93)

    Even after all she's been through, Frankie has to spell out for Matthew why she's unhappy and why she did what she did. And he still doesn't accept her. Well, what matters here is that she finally spoke her mind, even if it is too late.

    But she also hated the boarding school panopticon, the patriarchal establishment, the insular, over privileged life. (44.18)

    In a way, Frankie's too big for Alabaster. She's too ambitious and smart and knows that the establishment needs to be challenged. She can't just let things sit.

  • Courage

    She admired herself for taking charge of the situation, for deciding which way it went. She admired her own verbal abilities, her courage, her dominance. (20.76)

    Most girls would be mortified that they'd been seen chewing up and spitting out an ex boyfriend (verbally) in public, but not Frankie. She's kind of proud of herself.

    Frankie walked deliberately over to Matthew's table and sat down. As if she owned it. As if she had any right to be there. (22.28)

    Ooh, that's quite the social no-no there, Frankie. Doesn't she understand that the high school lunch table is a very political zone?

    Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. "You have some balls." (22.38)

    Well, that's kind of a crass way of saying it, but the seniors are obviously impressed by the fact that Frankie does not care what other people think of her. As they should be. We just wish that deep down Frankie cared a little less about what one person thought of her (cough—Matthew—cough).

    She looped and knotted the twine on a spigot attached to a pipe near the door, switched on her flashlight, and walked quickly into the tunnels, ignoring the pricking feeling down her spine and reminding herself that she wasn't being watched. (36.5)

    This is how every person dies in horror movies ever (crawling through dark abandoned tunnels) but Frankie forges onward anyway. She has a mission to carry out, and ain't no steam tunnel monster's gonna freak her out.

    If Frankie had done what Matthew asked of her and stood Porter up, that would have been a win for Matthew. But as it was, she had gone to lunch against his wishes. (40.7)

    Even though she's just a sophomore and is totally smitten with Matthew, Frankie's not going to let him boss her around and tell her what to do. She's not going to complain either—but she's going to do what she wants in her own quiet way.

    Frankie's first impulse was to hide. (41.23)

    Even though Frankie's terrified of getting caught in the tunnels, she keeps her cool despite the initial rush of terror and the fact that she's burned her arm on the steam pipe. She manages to get out of there and play it cool in front of the guard, even. Way to keep your head in the game.

    Frankie forced a laugh. "You think someone carried that huge thing into the library with nobody noticing?" (41.23)

    Like we said, Frankie's good at playing innocent even when she's almost caught red-handed doing something very, very dangerous. That's a sign of both courage and cleverness. Two things every budding feminist needs.

    Frankie took a deep breath and said it. "I burned myself in the steam tunnels." (43.81)

    Take a deep breath and take it easy. Frankie's about to do the brave thing and tell Matthew about everything—about how she's been following him and engineering all those pranks. But of course she's not so brave as to just come right out and say it. First she's gotta ease into it by revealing her presence in the steam tunnels.

    Or rather, she chose to stay, even though she also found it terrifying. (45.8)

    Even though she's likely to have a pretty terrible reputation when she returns to school, Frankie chooses to stay and make things happen for herself. She's not going to just run away with her tail between her legs. And isn't that what they say true courage is—being afraid of something and doing it anyway?

    Frankie appreciated both the accolades and the rejections equally, because both meant she'd had an impact. (46.2)

    There may be some haters at school, but Frankie can deal with it. She knows how to take care of herself.

  • Strength and Skill

    He thought she wasn't voracious. That she didn't go after what she wanted. That she was a girl who left the boardwalk as soon as her mother called her cell. (14.88)

    Alpha clearly underestimates Frankie and thinks that she's weak and just a girl. She'll show him. She'll eat all those garlic knots (even if they make her nauseous) because she is voracious. At least in spirit.

    The oath was a puzzle. It would tell her where the history was. And none of the current members of the Order seemed to even know it existed. (26.56-57)

    Clever Frankie! She's managed to figure out what generations of Basset Hounds have completely missed. What does she have that they don't? What is it that allows Frankie to achieve what so many Basset Hounds couldn't before?

    Those younger Bassets had been too dumb to find the history, Frankie guessed. Probably they searched, but without luck. (30.7)

    Even if Frankie isn't as physically strong as the boys, she's got quite a head on her shoulders. And she's going to use it to outsmart them. We're betting she'd argue that mental strength is far more important that physical prowess.

    It had formed itself in the back of her head while Artie and the boys were talking about their costumes, and waited, poised, to flood itself into her mind the moment they departed. (31.82)

    Frankie's always one step ahead. She can deliberate and scheme with the best of them, and this comes in handy when Alpha goes out of town. Here, we can literally see the wheels turning in the great, scheming machine that is her brain. And of course the prank that that machine produces is far cleverer, far more ambitious, and far more kickbutt than any of the pranks the real dogs could have dreamed up.

    In the Month of November, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds experienced a surge in activity that surpassed anything they'd accomplished since 1968. (37.1)

    It's a little ironic that the best leader the Order's ever had (since 1968 at least) is a girl who is pulling all the strings from a fake email account, isn't it? So much for the macho organization.

    Though she was pleased with the conclusions she drew from her reasoning, Frankie wandered around her mother's house in the days after Thanksgiving staring out of windows for long periods of time. (40.9)

    Being extremely clever and intelligent doesn't make it any easier when you figure out that your boyfriend's lying to you on the regular. Just because Frankie's got an evil genius brain doesn't mean she's got a cold, hard heart. Betrayals still sting, even if you manage to figure them out on your own terms.

    She could command them, outwit them; she could know more of their history than any of them ever would—but they would preserve that secrecy and clubbiness against her even so. (41.9)

    Even though Frankie is clearly the superior mind here, she'll always be an outsider because of her gender. And that's really quite a shame because by now she's proven herself equal (and maybe even superior) to the dogs in more ways than one.

    Burning and dripping and freezing, Frankie Landau-Banks walked down the hall to her bedroom. (42.23)

    Ah, the final proof that Frankie one strong and tough cookie. She's able to withstand extreme pain and discomfort without batting an eyelash. We'd like to see how Matthew would handle this situation—without the Superman shirt, of course.

    I'm just writing to say I underestimated you. I significantly underestimated you. (45.28)

    At the end of the day, even if Alpha doesn't like Frankie, he admits that she was incredibly skillful in carrying out all those pranks. And that's all she ever wanted—some acknowledgement. Alpha's willingness to recognize Frankie's awesomeness makes us think that he might not be the old boy we thought he was. Just imagine if these two joined forces.

  • Gender

    "No, I'm not, Bunny," Ruth said. "I am treating you like a very attractive, still very young, teenage girl." (3.29)

    How unfair. Frankie's younger cousin (who's only 12) gets to go to town by himself because he's a boy, but Frankie is kept on a ball and chain because she's a delicate little flower of a girl. Who happens to be a hottie.

    These guys, they were so sure of their places in life—so deeply confident of their merit and their future—they didn't need any kind of front at all. (8.67)

    Frankie doesn't have the advantage that her boyfriend and all his senior male friends have; she has to struggle to try to break the door open for herself. She needs that front.

    Frankie found her friend's attitude infuriating. By opting out of what the boys were doing in favor of a typically feminine pursuit, Trish had closed a door- the door between herself and that boys' club her brothers had on the beach. (12.20)

    Trish may think that she's just opting out of something she finds unfun, but Frankie sees it as a betrayal to herself. So she's taking herself out of the picture instead of changing the situation into one that she'd like better. But we wonder what Trish would have to say about all this if she were given the opportunity to speak for herself. We bet she's got a different perspective—one that might be nice to hear.

    "Because once you say women are one way, and men or another […] you're setting yourself up to make all kinds of assumptions that actually really suck." (22.78)

    Frankie the debater comes out. She stands her ground when Elizabeth makes some generalizations about men and women because she doesn't think that they should be boxed in by their gender.

    And because of her sex, because of her age, because (perhaps) of her religion and her feminism, she could sit at their table every day and she would never, never, ever get in. (26.49)

    Why won't those dogs accept Frankie into their pack? Just because she's a girl. Hmm, that seems like a very discriminatory thing to do.

    These are what I've got that keeps me out of the Loyal Order. Yes, it's my chromosomes, and maybe other things, too, but for a symbol of the difference between me and those boys—I could do worse than boobs. (31.46)

    Frankie's very aware of what limits her from becoming a full-fledged member of the Loyal Order (as opposed to just a girlfriend) and it makes her determined, not defeated. She's not going to look at being a girl as a curse—she's going to use it to her advantage.

    "Did you know," Frankie went on as casually as she could, "that girls make up fifty-two percent of the student body here, but only about twenty percent of the upper administration?" (33.40)

    The whole bra extravaganza actually serves to make a larger point; Frankie finds it a little insulting that women make up so few of the administration at Alabaster. We're betting no one even bothered to realize that before these shenanigans.

    She hoped, she hoped, he would understand. That he would appreciate her the way he appreciated Alpha. Admire her cleverness, her ambition, her vision. That he would admit her as his equal, or even as his superior, and love her for what she was capable of. (43.104)

    Here, this is who I am. I'm a strong woman. That's what Frankie is trying to convey to Matthew when she opens up to him at the end, but he's just disgusted by the whole thing and doesn't want to be with her anymore.

    Frankie was not interested in playing a sport that was rated as nothing by the more powerful half of the population. (46.8)

    The administration and therapists think that something is wrong with Frankie, but she just doesn't want to give in to stereotypes.

    She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her she should be. That Bunny Rabbit is dead. (46.61)

    At the end of the day, Frankie rejects all the gender norms that people impose on her. She's not going to be like that. She's going to be her own strong person.

  • Identity

    She was a girl who liked to read, had only ever had one boyfriend, enjoyed the debate team, and still kept gerbils in a Habitrail. (2.7)

    The beginning-of-the-year Frankie bears very little resemblance to the Frankie we see at the end of the novel. But does her physical transformation parallel an inner one? In other words, has Frankie's identity changed—or is she still the same girl?

    How does a person become the person she is? What are the factors in her culture, her childhood, her education, her religion, her economic stature, her sexual orientation, her race, her everyday interactions – what stimuli lead her to make choices other people will despise her for? (16.1)

    Frankie's obviously in the process of growing up throughout the book. She's kind of starting to figure out who she is in relation to everyone else. But figuring out who she is in relation to everyone else is not necessarily the same thing as figuring out who she is in the first place.

    "Don't worry," said Frankie. "I'm indelible." (18.76)

    While we salute the sentiment, we wonder if Frankie really buys what she's selling here. After all, if she is in fact indelible, why does she keep letting Matthew squelch her true self? Why does she keep his shirt?

    What mattered was that feeling of being expendable. That to Porter, she was a nobody that could easily be replaced by a better model—and the better model wasn't even so great. (20.4)

    Frankie's not so much mourning the loss of her relationship with Porter as she is angry with him for making her feel insignificant. For Frankie, a sense of identity is deeply connected to her ability to make an impact on others, and to be valued.

    It gave them a sense of identity that was separate from the values of the school that shaped them, and it gave them a sense of family when they were away from home. (21.19)

    The Loyal Order has their identities wrapped up in each other. No wonder Matthew's so secretive all the time. He's part of a collective. But we can't help but wonder what will happen to the dogs once they graduate and leave Alabaster. What will their identities be like when they're on their own out in the real world?

    Matthew had called her harmless. Harmless. And being with him made Frankie feel squashed into a box- a box where she was expected to be sweet and sensitive (but not oversensitive); a box for young and pretty girls who were not as bright or powerful as their boyfriends. (29.18)

    Frankie certainly doesn't want to be boxed into this idea that Matthew has about who she is as a girlfriend. She's not into having her identity defined by others. She'd rather do it herself, thank you very much.

    "You act like I need a boyfriend to take care of me." (39.61)

    It's insulting that Frankie's mom thinks she needs a babysitter to take care of her. She's very well able to take care of herself. It seems to Shmoop that Frankie's mom doesn't really understand who her daughter is. Maybe if she were paying closer attention, she'd realize that she's raised a strong young woman—and not a foolish little girl.

    "I'm a bad friend," moaned Frankie, shivering with chill and pain. "I know it. I'm a horrible friend. I'm sorry. I just – I don't know how to be anything else right now." (42.50)

    In the process of trying so hard to be a member of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, Frankie's lost sight of the people who have been there for her all along. And once you lose sight of that, you lose sight of yourself, too.

    She hoped, she hoped he would understand. That he would appreciate her the way he appreciated Alpha. Admire her cleverness, her ambition, her vision. (43.104)

    Well, don't get your hopes up, Frankie girl. Matthew's not going to react too well to your big confession. His identity is too wrapped up in his reputation and status in the school. Matthew may be self-assured, but he's not sure in himself. If he were, he'd probably be a better boyfriend.

    It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can't see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. (46.60)

    In the end, Frankie gets it. It's not right that Matthew doesn't accept her for who she is, and she's better off without him anyway. In the words of a certain Miss Swift, they're never ever getting back together. Like ever.

  • Respect and Reputation

    Frankie had gotten by at Alabaster on the strength of being Zada's little sister. (2.5)

    Alabaster may be a fine institution of learning, but let's get real—it's still high school. These students care more about their reputation within the school than just about anything. And those reputations have nothing to do with learning or grades. Reputation matters, and if you don't have any social cache, you're dead meat.

    "Right now is when you make the friendships that are gonna last you a lifetime. These people will get you jobs, you'll get them jobs. It's a network that's going to give you opportunities, Bunny Rabbit. Opportunities." (4.7)

    Senior is pretty serious about what he's getting out of paying for Alabaster. We guess it's not just fancy prep clothes and cute boys. And to be fair, dear old dad has a point. The choices Frankie makes at Alabaster will likely affect the rest of her life. So, based on her choices, how do you think she's going to fare in the real world?

    Like the other students at Alabaster, Matthew wore none of his wealth on his back. Old chinos and a thin red T-shirt with a stain on the stomach, ancient sneakers, and the same backpack Frankie knew he'd carried last year. (7.2)

    Matthew's reputation precedes him. Clichés aside, that means that he doesn't need to bother looking rich or powerful because everyone already knows that he is.

    [B]ut she was a heterosexual sophomore with no boyfriend and no social power (especially now that Zada had graduated). On what planet would a girl in her position refuse to go to a golf course party with Matthew Livingston? (12.42)

    Frankie, unlike Matthew, has very little to fall back on. She's just a sophomore, and she hasn't made a name for herself outside of her sister's reputation. But by the end of the novel, you can bet she's a bit of legend. And the way she gets her reputation is, shall we say, less than typical.

    "Okay. Playing host—or promising to—is like how Matthew dispels anxieties people have about his social position. And—and this is where it gets complicated—it paradoxically lets him solidify that exalted position." (14.113)

    Ah, Zada the sociologist. Anyways, she's right about some things; Matthew really is so up there in the social chain that it's okay for him to act really casual about stuff. While he does so under the guise of making people think he's all humble and chill, it's really a subtle reminder that he's awesome and better than you. Classy dude, that Matthew.

    Are you going to tell the dogs that you're not the guy they think you are? Tell Richmond everything and implicate all the dogs who have done your bidding? Show Elizabeth you're not the man she thinks she loves? (37.16)

    Frankie uses Alpha's reputation against him here, in order to keep his mouth shut about the whole email thing. After all, he wouldn't want anyone to know that he's not the mastermind that they think he is. Being the clever, cunning Alpha is part of what makes him who he is at Alabaster.

    She was explaining this whole prank to him, the prank he'd actually carried out, and instead of listening to her point, he was correcting her grammar. "You're thinking too much," he had said. (40.52)

    Poor Frankie thinks she's gone and earned herself legendary status at Alabaster, but Matthew's puny sense of imagination can't quite comprehend the awesomeness of which he's just been a part. He doesn't seem to care much about Frankie's reputation—that is, until it affects his own (i.e., when Frankie makes him look like an idiot for pulling on those pranks right under his nose).

    She hoped, she hoped that he would see how badly she wanted to be part of his world, how badly she'd wanted to break through the door that separated them, and how much she deserved to break through. (43.105)

    Frankie just wants to be elevated in Matthew's eyes, to be accepted as his peer. She wants the kind of respect and reputation that he has around campus. But (not that Shmoop is in the romantic advice game) does that sound like the makings for a healthy relationship? Not so much. It seems to us that Frankie doesn't want Matthew so much as she wants to be seen with Matthew—to have earned her spot in the exclusive upper echelons of Alabaster society.

    "But he'll be furious you got the whole thing exposed and lost the Disreputable History. He'll think you showed disrespect to his sacred institution and the secrecy of the club." (44.13)

    Even though Frankie is his daughter, Senior's still incredibly wrapped up in the reputation of his beloved club. Which surprises exactly no one. Once an old boy, always an old boy.

    "My dad was a member, and my older brother, too. Whole thing. I'm a legacy. So I was fairly certain I'd get the tap, if I only got those guys to like me." (44.49)

    In the end, the Order's practice of picking the "worthy" from those with a good family reputation backfired on them. Porter never was a loyal member at all!

  • Rules and Order

    I would like to point out that many of the Order's escapades were intended as social criticism. (1.8)

    Frankie's letter of confession is not without some rationalizing. She wasn't just trying to wreak havoc like any other crazy teenager; she was trying to make a statement. But the question remains: did she effectively make it? If she has to explain her pranks, did they accomplish what she wanted them to?

    The panopticon would create a sense of paranoia so pervasive that its inhabitants became practically self-governing. (10.9)

    The panopticon is such an effective tool of control that the prisoners wind up making and following their own rules, instead of rebelling.

    They were not afraid to break the rules, because consequences rarely applied to them. They were free. They were silly. They were secure. (15.22)

    The dogs of the school don't break the rules. They make the rules.

    Being a Basset was very important to these boys because it mediated their relationship to the other social institutions that shaped them—most importantly, Alabaster. (21.18)

    In a way, the Basset Hounds experience two levels of belonging. With their high social status, they clearly belong at Alabaster. And as Bassets, they only cement that status further. In that sense, they ensure that they'll remain on the top of the social food chain at Alabaster twice over.

    But another part of Frankie enjoyed the fact that she'd made herself a subject of discussion. That she'd broken a rule so entrenched in everybody's mind that it never occurred to anyone that it wasn't actually a rule. (22.34)

    Way to challenge the panopticon and sit wherever you please, Frankie. This girl's got the makings of a hardcore activist.

    "It feels good to be disobedient, don't you think?" asked Alpha. He leaned his weight ever so slightly harder against her arm, and Frankie could smell cigarette smoke and a wisp of apple. (28.27)

    Here comes trouble. Aside from Frankie, Alpha's the biggest troublemaker in the book, and they both seem to recognize it on some level. But why do you think Alpha thinks it feels good to be disobedient? We know that Frankie enjoys it from a social criticism angle, but what's in breaking the rules for Alpha?

    And Frankie thought: He won't even be able to call anyone. Incommunicado for four days. (31.15)

    With Alpha gone, the dogs will be in disorder and Frankie will have her moment to insert herself into the equation. Now she can start making the rules.

    Like Cacophonists, the Caltech students critique a time-honored institution (the university) by breaking its unwritten rules: you must wear clothes, you must honor your teachers, you must not attack fellow students' dorm rooms with chain saws. (32.11)

    Those crazy Caltech students. The history of protest is obviously something that Frankie takes very seriously in her studies. Talk about applying what you've learned to real life.

    The Guppy respectfully requests that school assemblies be henceforth held in the auditorium of the new arts complex. (40.18)

    Frankie's pranks aren't just a silly attempt to mess with the school administration; they actually challenge the rules that she finds ridiculous. What's amazing is how effective some of them are. Frankie actually gets what she wants. We just wonder if the administration and the student body understand the overall message.

    "No, seriously," she persisted. "The Guppy represents the old-fashioned values of the school, and putting it in the dry pool is like saying those values are old and useless, the way the pool is." (40.45)

    Thanks for the explanation, lady. Frankie is done with all of the stupid rules that hold her back, done with the Old Boy's club feel of Alabaster. If only she could get Matthew to see what she means.

  • Coming of Age

    Between May and September, she gained four inches and twenty pounds, all in the right places. Went from being a scrawny, awkward child with hands too big for her arms, a frizz of unruly brown puff on her head […] to being a curvaceous young woman with an offbeat look that boys found distinctly appealing. (2.3)

    Well, we can't say that's a bad way to transform over the summer when you're a teenage girl. But do you think that Frankie's inner self has caught up with her outer self's growth spurt?

    What Frankie did that was unusual was to imagine herself in control. The drinks, the clothes, the invitations, the instructions, the food (there had been none), the location, everything. She asked herself: If I were in charge, how could I have done it better? (13.54)

    Frankie has some real confidence in herself. Instead of just being grateful that she was invited to a senior party, she thinks of how she could be in charge. Someone's confident.

    So I was a monster, she thought. At least I wasn't someone's little sister, someone's girlfriend, some sophomore, some girl—someone whose opinions don't matter. (20.77)

    Bunny Rabbit no more, Frankie delivers a verbal lashing to her ex-boyfriend Porter. If we had any doubt that Frankie was a good debater, this would have cleared things up. But what's really telling here is that Frankie would rather be a monster than someone's, well, anything. Fair enough. At least when she's being a monster, it's on her own terms.

    She found herself to be a talented tail—as if her years of meek inconsequentiality had trained her. (26.41)

    Maybe she used to be a mousy girl, but Frankie's now grown into herself. She knows where she's headed. She's pretty smart to put those years of diminutive behavior to good use. Now she's able to use her status as a Bunny Rabbit to her advantage—because no one ever suspects the meek and mild girl, right?

    Frankie wanted to be a force. (29.19)

    The teenage years are a critical time for defining yourself, and Frankie definitely knows what she wants to be known as. The question is, does she achieve this goal? Mission accomplished?

    She stood there, exhilarated, listening to fifty-four students and three faculty members argue, speculate and wonder. About something she had done. Something she had made happen. (36.52-54)

    Frankie is no longer an inconsequential little sister or girlfriend. She's someone who has made a serious impact on the school—even if no one knows it but her. We're betting she's feeling pretty gruntled right now, but is anyone else worried that she might be getting a bit power-hungry?

    Now she was the commander in chief of a squad of older boys, sending them on adventures that shook Alabaster to its foundations. (38.37)

    In the span of 38 chapters or so, she's gone from gawky geeky girl to commander in chief. That's quite the transformation. Did she get her newfound boldness from dating Matthew? From her brand new body? Or did she just, you know, grow up?

    "You're kidding me. There's no way you're a sophomore. Last year, I swear it on my grave, I was changing your diapers." (39.44)

    Her uncles are clearly a little out of date. Never mind, Frankie will show them that she's grown up in due time. And in any case, his comment serves as a handy reminder—Frankie's still quite young. That makes her level of maturity all the more impressive.

    They were not sure quite where she fit in anymore. If she was not Bunny Rabbit, as it was finally clear she was not—who was she? (45.11)

    Frankie finally sheds her nickname of Bunny Rabbit. It took some extreme action, but she did it! And once you shed your pet name, well, that makes it official: you've grown up.

    She watches the boys as they peel off in different directions and disappear around corners and into the buildings of Alabaster. She doesn't feel like crying anymore. (46.62-63)

    Maybe one of the most important lessons of growing up is learning how to be alone… and still loving yourself. Frankie certainly has to learn this the hard way when it comes to her relationship with Matthew.