Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Christian's Scars (Symbol)

When they become intimate, Ana notices that Christian has small round scars on his chest and torso. At first Ana assumes they are from chicken pox, but she can never get a close look because Christian refuses to allow her to touch this part of his body. Eventually, Ana realizes the scars are from cigarette burns. The scars symbolize Christian's past trauma, and how it continues to affect him. Even though Christian now has a safe and powerful life, he is still psychologically trapped in a place of vulnerability and fear. Just like how the scars will never go away, even though the wounds have healed, Christian cannot move forward in his relationship because he is still stuck in the past. He literally cannot let Ana touch certain parts of his body, and he symbolically cannot let her see certain things about his past experiences.

Ana's BlackBerry (Symbol)

As their relationship deepens, Christian wants the ability to be in touch with Ana at all times. When he learns she doesn't have email access, he buys her a BlackBerry so that the two of them can always be in touch. The BlackBerry symbolizes Christian's need for total control and access to Ana's life. He finds comfort in knowing he can reach her at any time, and he is insistent that she always respond promptly. Christian's wealth allows him to buy an expensive device without a second thought. His gift is generous, but it exists to meet his needs more than help Ana. She never uses the device to advance her career or communicate with anyone other than Christian.

BDSM (Motif)

BDSM is a psycho-sexual subculture, which is based on the erotic exchange of power and other forms of sexual relations, including role-plays in domination and submission. Christian Grey gets involved in BDSM and he is addicted to it. In this game, Christian is a dominant and Anastasia is a submissive. She does not immediately agree to participate in this sort of exchange, and she hesitates for a long time. Christian and Ana gradually incorporate more and more BDSM elements into their sexual encounters, creating a reoccurring motif through the novel. Ana will often push the limits of Christian's control, leading him to assert his dominance through some sort of physical restraint or punishment. The motif of BDSM mirrors the deeper psychological power struggle which Ana and Christian engage in as their relationship deepens. Christian needs to feel that he is totally in control of their relationship and that there will not be any surprises, whereas Ana wants to feel a more organic sense of give and take based on two people who love one another.

Christian's Helicopter (Symbol)

When Ana first goes to Seattle to see Christian's apartment, he flies the two of them there on his personal helicopter, which he pilots himself. The helicopter symbolizes Christian's power and the ability to shape the world to his will. Because of his wealth and confidence, he has access to options other people don't, and can essentially do whatever he wants. Ana finds this discovery intoxicating in contrast to her own more mundane life. The helicopter also symbolizes Christian's tendency to be controlling and dominant. He could easily hire a driver or a pilot, but he likes to control situations directly. Piloting the helicopter gives him a sense of power which he finds psychologically soothing, in the same way that he can regain confidence when he forces Ana to physically submit to him.

The Contract (Motif)

When Ana and Christian first start exploring the idea of a sexual relationship, Christian is very insistent on Ana signing a detailed contract which stipulates all the terms of their relationship. Ana is hesitant about the idea, and resistant to many of the items stipulated. Christian does not want her to sign until she is sure, so the discussion and negotiation of the contract becomes a reoccurring motif in the novel. For Christian, the contract would be a victory, signaling that he can feel confident about Ana's presence in his life and her willingness to meet his terms. It would mean that he has gotten his way. For Ana, signing the contract represents a capitulation to vulnerability. She is afraid that the contract puts an expiration date on their relationship, and that she will be discarded once Christian has gotten what he wants. As a motif, the contract signals that Christian and Ana are both afraid of getting hurt and unwilling to fully trust one another.