Study Guide

What I Saw and How I Lied Betrayal

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The mood had changed. Why had she invited me today? She'd asked me right after I'd read part of her letter. Was this shopping trip some kind of bribe? So that I wouldn't tell anyone what I'd read? So I wouldn't tell what I'd overheard? (11.85)

The Graysons are so mysterious—at one point, Evie even thinks that they might be spies—and because of this, she's not sure what Mrs. Grayson's real motives are. Does she mean it when she says that she wants to give Evie a makeover? Or is she simply trying to cover her own tracks?

And then Peter spoke so softly that only Joe and I could hear it. "Who's the dirty rat here, Joe? From where I'm standing?" (18.56)

Even though Evie doesn't have the background info on Joe and Peter's relationship, she can still tell that something pretty rotten is going on. Peter is trying to blackmail Joe for something that he did—something that may not be entirely moral or legal.

"You didn't trust me then, though, did you? You never did, but I didn't want to see it. I thought it was because you loved me so much. But no, you made sure I had a chaperone while you were overseas. Your mother, watching me like a hawk. So if I stopped to buy a pack of gum, she'd want to know what I was doing for those five minutes." (19.60)

Poor Bev—she thought that in marrying Joe, she'd finally have a good home and a solid man to take care of her. But even as he proclaims to love her more than anything, Joe has put her in a cage; he doesn't trust her to be out in the world on her own. He thinks she'll stray just because she's beautiful.

"After a while I'm writing him, and he's not answering. So as soon as I get stateside, I look him up. He dodged my calls. He didn't have the cash to give me. And then he takes off for Florida…" (20.49)

For a wartime buddy, Joe really screwed over Peter—instead of giving him his share of the money, Joe decides to run off with it all like a bandit in the night. He puts it into his appliance stores and squirrels the extra cash away for a dream house instead of staying true to his word.

"He wasn't what you thought," Mom whispered to me that night. We lay together in one of the double beds. Joe snored in the other one. "He wasn't what I thought, either. Joe set me straight. I should have known what he was, the way he went after you that way." (26.20)

Bev feels utterly betrayed by Peter and the fact that he was pursuing them because he was after Joe, but in the end, she's the one who betrays him the most. Instead of protecting him from her husband, she's complicit in his eventual death.

Peter wasn't who I thought he was. Could it be that Mom wasn't, either?

If everyone was wondering what had gone on between Peter and my mother, wouldn't I be crazy not to wonder, too? (28.16-17)

Now that the truth is hazy, Evie doesn't know whom to trust. Their whole situation is so muddled up that she can no longer continue to simply see the best in her parents; for all she knows, Joe could be a murderer and her mother could be a cheating harlot. Ugh.

When did my mother get to be such a cool liar? When did she learn to use her face to look so innocent?

Maybe when she fell in love with Peter. She had so many lies to tell. (30.84-85)

Evie's always admired her mom and wanted to be just like her, but maybe she doesn't want to be able to lie so convincingly like her mother does.

I couldn't look at my mother. I couldn't stand the smell of her perfume. I kept myself very still so that I wouldn't brush against her. I couldn't bear the picture in my head of her pressed against Peter. (31.46)

In a way, Evie's mom has betrayed her twice: she's broken up Evie's precious, beloved family, and she's used Evie's crush on Peter as a way to spend lots of time with him herself. That's a pretty messed up thing to do. Not cool, Mom, not cool.

I broke Mr. Markel's rule and looked straight into her eyes. She shook her head, just a little bit, tears pooling in her eyes. I didn't know what the head shake meant. You don't have to lie, Evie?

But I did, and she knew it, so maybe she was shaking her head at the whole awful stink of it. (33.85-86)

When Evie lies to the judge and the courtroom, it's clear that she's doing it in order to save her parents—they'd be completely lost without her and would end up in jail. This is an even bigger sacrifice because her mom has already betrayed her trust—and her emotions.

I was sorry about Wally. But I had to do it. I had to tell them what happened so that they wouldn't believe him over me. (33.118)

Evie may not have returned Wally's affections, but she still feels badly about throwing him under the bus when it comes to the trial. Instead of telling the truth, she says that he forced himself on her—therefore ensuring that his reputation is shot.

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