Content Warning: This section of the guide includes discussion of sexual assault and grooming of a minor.
Ana, the protagonist, is a 21-year-old recent college graduate. She recently began an assistant editor job at an independent Seattle publisher. She shares an apartment with her best friend, Kate Kavanaugh. Fifty Shades of Grey focused on Ana’s sexual growth, but this novel centers on her personal growth. Ana confronts her own feelings of inadequacy as she enters back into a relationship with Christian Grey after the traumatic breakup featured at the end of the first installment.
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Ana cannot function on her own. This sense of helplessness follows the “damsel in distress” trope. Christian and Ana’s relationship lasted days before they split up, but Ana cannot manage to sleep well or eat without him. She loses weight and sits in her apartment, thinking “all I can do is sit and stare blankly at the brick wall. I’m numb. I feel nothing but pain” (6). Ana feels empty and hopeless without the excitement and involvement of Christian.
Over the course of the novel, Ana needs Christian’s constant saving, from a gun wielding ex-submissive to a sexually harassing boss.
By E. L. James