Study Guide

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Rules and Order

By E. Lockhart

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.

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