Character Analysis: Amy Elliott Dunne
Amy has a hard time socially fitting in with others due to a variety of reasons which may be hard to pinpoint, but it becomes clear that she is certainly not happy. She doesn’t know what being happy means, but she certainly knows how to get what she wants. She can put plans in place, strategies and the like. She’s very precise, scientific. As the book progresses it indicates that Amy is a sociopath, and I strongly wished that she would stay on the moral high ground. She changes her personality to win over Nick. How could you expect her to behave otherwise? Society told her how to act if she wanted to get Nick, and so she did so. Obviously since she had to pretend to be another person to win over Nick her guard slowly came crashing down as life happened. As Nick crushed under the pressure he turned into an evil beast who blamed Amy for the world’s events. Nick
“Nick loved me… But he didn’t love me, me. Nick loved a girl who doesn’t exist. I was pretending, the way I often did, pretending to have a personality. I can’t help it, it’s what I’ve always done: the way some women change fashion regularly, I change personalities. What persona feels good, what’s coveted” (222).
- I connected to this rather strongly because I feel as though the real me died the first time I cut. The first time I chose to live, to fight rather than to contemplate suicide. Even though that was over half a decade ago I still struggle with identity. Who do I want to be, I want to be liked, I want to be enjoyed, I want to fit in, and to do that there is a nice list of things that I need to do to be noticed.
- I don’t fit in, I don’t have a space, I pretend that I like things or don’t based on the room that is around me. It’s not even that I’m pretending in the sense of the word, but rather my subconscious just wants to belong. It’s as if I shouldn’t exist, as if someone else should be me.
“That night at the Brooklyn party, I was playing the girl who was in style, the girl a man like Nick wants: the Cool Girl… Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the cool girl.”
- The part that Amy is playing, she is not playing a personality that she wants to be. What she wants is Nick, but she knows that she has to give up her dignity in order to get what she wants – Nick.
“But it’s tempting to be Cool Girl. For someone like me, who likes to win, it’s tempting to want to be the girl every guy wants.”
- Amy is recognizing that the person she is, “Amy” is not the Amy that “Amy” wants to be. She wants to be liked, to be loved, and the only way she knows how to obtain this is to pretend to be someone else.
“Until Nick, I’d never really felt like a person, because I was always a product. Amazing Amy has to be brilliant, creative, kind, thoughtful, witty, and happy.”
- The affection of another person can be quite tempting. As Amy has to pretend to be what she believes everyone else needs her to be she feels as though she is not being herself. Nick wins her over, and unfortunately the happiness that Amy gains is false. She feels as though Nick is also faking everything and that in this way they understand each other. They are similar, and that makes her feels as though he understands her as a human.
“I was probably happier for those few years- pretending to be someone else – than I ever have been before or after. I can’t decide what that means.”
- What people don’t understand about absolute perfectionists is that they are not happy. Everything that they do is never good enough. Even when they are the best they are not good enough. They want to be something else, someone else, to fit in so badly that they … the only thing that would make them happy is to be someone else. They can’t even be happy if they are that person, they have to be pretending. (Don’t quote me on that term as in a group of people– absolute perfectionist.)
“My body was a beautiful, perfect economy, every feature calibrated, everything in balance. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss men looking at me. It’s a relief to walk into a convenience store and walk right back out without some hangabout in sleeveless flannel leering as I leave… Now no one is rude to me, but no one is nice to me either.
- I’ve met a few girls who sabotage their own beauty because they feel as though it makes them a person who they don’t want to be. They don’t want to be the pretty girl because that would also give them the characteristics of a pretty girl. When I say sabotage their own beauty I say it in concerning their ideal personal image. Like they want longer hair but they keep it short. Personally, they’re still fucking beautiful either way. It hurts to see them suffer.
- Amy did not want the attention that she was getting before. Attention she wanted before. It’s not that she hurt herself to not get noticed sexually, but in a small way she’s happy to just be by herself for a short while – even at the price it costs.
“It started with my vacant-brained friend Noelle. The Midwest is full of these types of people: the nice-enoughs. Nice enough but with a soul made of plastic-easy to mold, easy to wipe down… someone who’d be easy to manipulate, who wouldn’t think too hard about anything. I said because she felt privilege to hear it.”
- Amy does not understand how other people think and feel. She seems them as below her, people to be used as tools. This part was a shame to see. Amy’s not trying to fit in because Amy believes that she is the best. Everything is her “due.” Amy’s personality is changing to be one where she is above everything else. She sees herself as King, God.
“I feel like Amy wanted people to believe she really was perfect. And as we got to be friends, I got to know her. And she wasn’t perfect. You know? She was brilliant and charming and all that, but she was also controlling and OCD and a drama queen and a bit of a liar. Which was fine by me. It wasn’t fine by her. She got ridof me because I knew she wasn’t perfect.”
“Greta leaves to go to the bathroom, and I tiptoe into her kitchen, go into her fridge, and spit in her milk, her orange juice, and a container of potato salad, then tiptoe back to the bed.”
- Amy always has to win, even when there was no wrong intended. She doesn’t take into account morals, intent, judgment. She just has to win, be on top, and be the best.
- This is what hurt the most about the book, and why I was disappointed to an extent. Look at the weirdo. It makes me worried about how some of Amy’s attributes will be connected to other attributes. How if this one characteristic is bad so are the others.
“Which is something I’ve learned “I” like to do.”
- Very powerful statement. Amy has been so devoted to what everyone else expects her to behave that she is unaware of what makes her happy.
“This is what you get for relaxing, this is what you get for not thinking all the time.. you deserve to get caught, a girl who acts so stupidly, and what if you left hairs in the front office, then what, and what if there are fingerprints in Jeff’s car or Greta’s kitchen, what then, why did you ever thinking you could be someone who didn’t worry.”
- Absolute perfectionist. Letting your guard down, relaxing for a moment, and just hanging out. You start to blame yourself for things that happen even though they are not your fault. Because if you had maintained the effort it would not have happened. Like if they said it was not going to be a competition, but as it ends they pretend it was. Like if the teacher said something wasn’t going to be on the test but it was. It’s not your fault for it happening, but you still blame yourself.