Study Guide

This Is Where I Leave You Betrayal

By Jonathan Tropper

Betrayal

"I am a flawed person. I was unhappy and did something inexcusable. But as much as you might hate me for ruining your life, playing the victim isn't really working out for you" (2.13)

Although Judd is justified in his anger, Jen has a real point here. Judd won't be able to move on with his life unless he learns to live with her betrayal, so he'd better get himself into some therapy and learn to deal.

It would be so much easier if she wasn't Jen. But she is, and where there was once the purest kind of love, there is now a snake pit of fury and resentment and a new dark and twisted love that hurts more than the rest of it put together (2.28)

Ooh, ooh, we've got a good analogy for this. Love is powerful—like, say, dynamite. Betrayal, on the other hand, is like a lit match. On their own, they're fine. Together, they make one nasty mess.

In the days that followed, I would review the last year or so of our marriage like the security tapes after a robbery, wondering how the hell I could have been so damn oblivious, how it took actually walking in on them to finally get the picture (3.12)

Sure, Judd could figure things out if he investigated them like the lead detective in a serial killer flick, but something tells us that this wouldn't be the best thing for his sanity. Those detectives always have a little something off about them, anyway.

It had been only a minute or so since I'd walked through the bedroom door, and my brain has not yet adjusted to this suddenly transformed world where I no longer comforted Jen because I hated her (3.41)

After he catches Jen having sex with Wade, Judd still feels a borderline-biological drive to care for Jen. The betrayal is so profound that his instincts take over, even though his conscious mind knows that she's actually in the act of betraying him.

She always cared a little too much about being liked, and the guilt over her betrayal isn't nearly as upsetting to her as the fact that I now despise her. (9.35)

Really, Judd? Are you sure about this? With Judd's poor track record of assessing Jen's emotions, we're not sure he's reading her correctly here. He's still so focused on his own feelings of betrayal that he can't see his part in it.

I was being offered a consolation prize. Numbers had been crunched, risk assessed, and they had estimated the value of my broken marriage at another thirty thousand dollars a year before taxes. (14.25)

There's nothing like a bit of professional betrayal to go along with all of the emotional carnage. The dehumanization of this sort of corporate proceedings is just the cherry on top of the humiliation sundae.

She's not here to get me back or even to pay her respects. She has Wade's baby in her belly and out money in her mind. And now the rage is back, along with a healthy measure of self-loathing for being the pathetic cuckold who wants his cheating wife back. (18.79)

Judd isn't just angry that Jen betrayed him—he's also angry that she betrayed him and he finds himself still wanting her back. In a way, you could say that he's betraying himself by wanting her.

When, exactly, did she cross that line and stop being mine? The only thing more painful than not knowing would be knowing. Having to go back to every picture in every album and stamp it real or lie. I don't have the stomach for it. (31.89)

Jen's betrayal forces Judd to reexamine their relationship. How much of their marriage was a lie? When did he lose her? Problem is, sometimes those questions just open up the wounds. You can't move forward if you're always questioning the past. (That's a good life lesson, Shmoopers. Write it down.)

Friendship in the suburbs is wife-driven [...] Now that I'd been sidelined, Wade had stepped in for me like an understudy. (31.95)

Now that he's out of the situation, Judd can see that many of his "friends" weren't real friends at all. Between you and us, though, this revelation might be a good thing.

"So you can go on hating me for it; I certainly would if I were you. But she came after me, Judd. Not the other way around. She came after me. You know that's true, and that's the thing you can't get past." (38.70)

Judd blames Wade for Jen's affair from the start. It's comforting to believe that Jen was manipulated and that Wade is a jerk. Deep down, however, he knows that's not the whole truth.

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