Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Why is Christian initially attracted to Ana?

    When Christian first meets Ana when she comes to his office to interview him, she stands out because she is unlike most of the people he meets. Christian is surrounded by people who try to appeal to him for their own interests, both in his professional and personal life. He is very wealthy, powerful, and handsome, and so he has a lot to offer. However, Ana has not made any effort to impress him, and she is very authentic. She doesn't know anything about him or his business, and clearly doesn't have any ulterior motives. She is not trying to be seductive: in fact, she is not conventionally beautiful, or knowledgeable about fashion or makeup. Ana's innocence and lack of worldliness stands out to Christian, who has become somewhat cynical about the glamorous world he occupies. He can also tell that under her quiet demeanor, she has a stubborn and strong will, and this appeals to his dominant side because he knows he will find it even more satisfying to bring her under his control.

  2. 2

    What is Ana's self-perception at the start of the novel? How does this perception change once she begins her relationship with Christian?

    At the start of the novel, Ana thinks of herself as somewhat dull and uninteresting. She has a lot of hopes and fantasies for her future, but she hasn't experienced much yet. She hasn't traveled abroad or ever been in a romantic relationship. Ana also sometimes contrasts herself with Kate, which makes her feel awkward, unattractive, and unsophisticated. Kate is wealthy, charismatic, and confident in her sexuality. At first, Ana cannot imagine that Christian could even be attracted to her when he could have any woman he wants. However, Christian's desire for her helps Ana to see that she can also be bold, audacious, and playful. She quickly becomes confident in her sexual desires, and her ability to tease and provoke him. When she sees herself through Christian's eyes, Ana starts to recognize who she truly is.

  3. 3

    Compare and contrast Ana's relationships with other men to her relationship with Christian.

    Although Ana feels somewhat unattractive and dowdy at the start of the novel, she has had a number of suitors. Her close friend José has made it clear that he would like to be in a romantic relationship with her, and Paul Clayton (her boss' brother) is also romantically interested. While both men are attractive in their own ways, Ana does not experience any desire or romantic feelings for them. Her attraction to Christian is so powerful because she has never had these feelings before, and does not know whether she is capable of feeling them for other men. Ana has romantic ideals based on all the novels she has read, and she finds more "average" men unexciting. Christian is larger than life, and while that makes him threatening, it also means that he is finally someone who can live up to Ana's fantasies.

  4. 4

    Why does Ana dislike and distrust Mrs. Robinson?

    After Ana probes into Christian's past, he eventually admits that he was first initiated into BDSM sexuality as a teenager. He had his first relationship with an older woman who was friends with his mother. Because Christian doesn't reveal the woman's identity, Ana nicknames her "Mrs. Robinson" (a reference to the seductive older woman who appears in the film The Graduate). Ana immediately interprets Christian and Mrs. Robinson's relationship as predatory: she believes the woman took advantage of Christian's youth and innocence. Since Ana is unhappy with Christian's BDSM tendencies, it is tempting for her to blame them on someone and create a narrative in which Mrs. Robinson corrupted Christian and made him the way he is. When Ana finds out that Mrs. Robinson and Christian remain close friends, she dislikes the other woman even more. It seems that Mrs. Robinson is the one person Christian is willing to open up to and fully share himself with. It drives Ana crazy that Christian is willing to experience intimacy with another woman and not with her.

  5. 5

    Why does Ana eventually end her relationship with Christian?

    Over time, Ana becomes more and more aware that she will never be happy with Christian unless he fully trusts her and opens himself up to her. However, Christian keeps refusing to do so. Ana eventually resorts to asking him to punish her as forcefully as he can: she hopes that this gesture of vulnerability and trust on her part will lead to him reciprocating with emotional intimacy. However, Ana ends up pushing her limits too far and reacts with horror and disgust when Christian hits her with a belt. She realizes that what they want is too different, and that they will never be truly compatible. Ana can no longer bear to struggle on with her vain hopes of winning Christian's love and decides she needs to move forward with her life, even if it means doing so alone.