Study Guide

What I Saw and How I Lied Appearances

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The characters in What I Saw and How I Lied pay a great deal of attention to appearances—especially when it comes to female beauty standards and class differences. When the novel opens, Evie is still feeling awkward and childlike—her body hasn't developed the womanly curves or allure that she desires yet. On the flip side, her mother is a paragon of feminine beauty and sex appeal; everyone looks at her when she walks into a room, and that carries a kind of power and danger (especially when it comes to men).

In the end, Evie learns how to manipulate her appearance so that she has the same kind of power as her mother—but with it comes adult responsibilities that she never considered.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Why is Joe Spooner so obsessed with his wife's beauty?
  2. Why does it take Evie so long to recognize her own beauty?
  3. How does Mrs. Grayson make herself so attractive?
  4. Do you think that Peter is drawn to Bev because of her physical beauty? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Evie thinks that her life will get easier once she's more beautiful because people will go out of their way to do nice things for her. What she doesn't anticipate is that once she is conventionally beautiful and womanly, her life gets harder and people distrust her more.

Mr. and Mrs. Grayson use their appearance as a rich, attractive couple to fit in with Palm Beach society. At the end of the day though, their glamorous appearance doesn't hide the fact that they're Jewish, so they are still shunned—despite their wealth and classy appearance.

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