Study Guide

She's Come Undone Part 2: Whales / Chapter 8

By Wally Lamb

Part 2: Whales / Chapter 8

  • Dolores is about to graduate high school, and her guidance counselor, Mr. Pucci, calls in her mother and tells her that Dolores should go to college.
  • Quick flashback: After Roberta told Ma that Dolores was raped by Jack, Dolores insisted that she be taken out of school and tutored. They never pressed charges against Jack, who moved out, and they never told Dolores's dad either.
  • Back in the present, Dolores is being rejected by school after school, despite her mother's best attempts at application essays—Dolores won't do them, so Ma is doing them for her while Dolores stuffs her face full of cookies and Pepsi.
  • Finally she gets accepted to Merton College; all they need from Dolores is a tuition fee and a physical exam form.
  • The last thing Dolores wants is to have a doctor examine her, but Ma convinces her to go anyway.
  • Dolores refuses to take off all her clothes, but the doctor doesn't care. He has one diagnosis for her: "You're too goddamned fat" (2.8.61). Thanks, Doc.
  • Ma suggests that maybe they go on a diet together, but she's not very helpful when she keeps buying Dolores snacks like Swiss cheese in a squirt can (not a low-calorie food).
  • Dolores's dad sends her a hundred bucks for graduation, but she doesn't respond to his card.
  • She skips her own graduation, even though Ma tries to bribe her with a trip to China Paradise afterward.
  • Instead, Dolores stays home and buys a nineteen-pound hunk of beef, hacks off pieces of raw meat, and eats it, washing it down with a bottle of wine before blowing meaty chunks all over the place.
  • Because that whole process was such a turn on, Dolores lies in bed and explores her body. For a moment, she imagines it's Jack touching her, but she manages to get him out of her head.
  • After her mom and grandma come home, Dolores goes down stairs, finds her graduation program, and rips it up and throws it in the trash.