Study Guide

The Danish Girl Chapter 21

By David Ebershoff

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Chapter 21

  • Einar takes a taxi to the Women's Clinic.
  • When he arrives, the woman at the door turns him away and tells him to come back tomorrow.
  • Einar gets a hotel room for the night, goes back tomorrow, and is still turned away. What gives?
  • He wanders the city lost and scared, attending the opera and taking in the sight of the Elbe River at the Brühlsche Terrace overlooking the city to get his mind off his anxiety.
  • Finally, the next day, Dr. Bolk agrees to see him.
  • He is examined by Dr. Bolk, who wants to talk to Einar later that night.
  • Dr. Bolk tells Einar about the first man, the man he was going to perform surgery on before he ran away.
  • He thinks Einar is the perfect candidate for the surgery, but he wants Einar to move into the clinic first to gain weight and build up his health.
  • Einar arrives at the clinic as Lili. When asked for her name, she says "Lili Elbe" (21.75). This is her first time revealing her last name.
  • Most of the patients at the clinic are pregnant women, and Lili makes friends with one named Ursula.
  • They sit and chat most days in the garten, which, according to Google Translate, is German for garden.
  • Lili gets a letter from Greta checking up on her, but she doesn't respond.
  • Finally, it's time for the surgery.
  • Lili is given a pill to help her sleep. Ah, simple and painless…
  • Not so fast. Lili wakes up in extreme pain, pain so bad she passes right back out.
  • We're told that Einar "had passed from man to woman" (21.121) and that Lili remains unconscious for three whole days.

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