The Edible Woman

The Edible Woman Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7-8


Marian heads home, even though she hasn’t finished all of the interviews, and takes a bath before heading over to Peter’s apartment. Because Peter hadn’t specified whether they were going out or making dinner, she stops by a grocery store and picks up some ingredients to bring over to his apartment. His apartment is far away and inconveniently located, partly because it is located in a new building that is almost complete. Marian describes how nice Peter’s apartment will be when it is finished and all of the new installations being made to make it modern. Although Peter is not yet wealthy, as he is only in the first years of his career as a lawyer, Marian alludes to the fact that he will soon make a significantly larger amount of money.

When Marian enters Peter’s apartment, he is in the shower. He comes out and asks her to make them drinks before inviting her into the shower with him, which she finds puzzling. She wonders why he would do such a thing, as the arrangement is uncomfortable, and they sit in the bathtub together. Marian debates whether this is Peter’s way of coping with his friend’s marriage, and recalls how after every one of his friend’s marriages, he has set up some kind of “scene” to take her to, which she believes he copies from stories he reads.

Marian explains that she and Peter met at a party after Marian’s graduation, and that Clara described Peter as a “good-looking guy.” Marian goes on to explain how Peter is conventionally attractive and always smells like soap. When they met, Peter asserted his desire for a girl who wouldn’t interfere with his life, alluding to a previous relationship with a woman who was too assertive. Marian explains that this agreement—that she will not be intrusive or too assertive—is a fundamental part of their relationship. Marian and Peter continue to sit in the bath together and Peter makes conversation, although all of it seems to perturb Marian and mildly annoy her. He bites her in a sensuous manner, which puts her on guard, as she doesn’t understand the intent of this action and he’s never done it before. However, she bites him back nonetheless.

Marian and Peter head over to meet Len. Before they leave the apartment, they eat dinner together and Peter appears to be slightly jealous of Len while asking who he is and how Len and Marian met. Len, Marian, and Peter convene at a bar and Peter and Len begin to have a casual conversation; however, they are only able to speak for a moment before Ainsley—who wasn’t originally invited—appears and interrupts the gathering.

Len and Ainsley begin to chat. Marian, taken aback by Ainsley’s unexpected intrusion, excuses herself to go to the bathroom. She is worried about Ainsley’s presence, given that Ainsely and Peter have not gotten along in the past due to their differing political views-- Peter is conservative, while Ainsley is much more liberal. Marian excuses herself to go outside, where she begins to experience severe feelings of dissociation and confusion.

When she returns, she sees that Peter and Len are discussing hunting. Peter’s voice seems different to Marian and she further dissociates from the social scene. Marian tries to console herself by convincing herself that her strange mental state is due to the alcohol. She begins crying, although she doesn’t notice it at first, and then leaves to go to the bathroom, where she weeps.

Ainsley comes to fetch Marian from the bathroom. Marian, who senses that Ainsley is attempting to seduce Len, asks what Ainsley’s intention is with Len. Ainsley says that she wants to meet him more first, and doesn’t deny that she is trying to engage with Len in a romantic manner. When Marian and Ainsley come back to the group, Marian feels even more panicked. The group agrees to leave the bar. Once they step outside, Marian abandons the group and begins to run away.


Chapters 7-8 reveal the intricacies—and the glaring flaws—in Peter and Marian’s relationship. When describing Peter, Marian rarely mentions any feelings she has towards him, and instead lists a series of his external characteristics. Peter functions as a type of man, rather than an individual that Marian connects to. Like Ainsley, Duncan, and Clara, Peter represents a gendered stereotype. Peter is the typical, perfect man. His career (law) is traditional and reliable. He has a clean apartment with quality furniture, as Marian points out that it is all Danish, and that Peter prioritizes its esteem and style.

Spaces play a significant role in the novel, and Peter’s apartment serves as a reflection of his personality and relationship to Marian. The physical distance she has to travel in order to get to Peter mirrors the emotional distance between the two of them, as well as the class difference that divides them. Peter lives alone, while Marian lives with a roommate and a landlady in a cluttered apartment. Peter's apartment is full of “shiny surfaces.” It is also unfinished—a symbol of Peter’s developing career and path towards status. Although his apartment is in the process of being built, it will become a sign of wealth, since it is in a luxury complex and part of a project to build apartments for wealthy individuals. Similarly, Peter’s career moves towards wealth; he doesn’t have “extravagant amounts” of money yet, but Marian makes it clear that he is “rising… like a balloon” at his firm and is on track to having a significant salary. Marian’s career, and her apartment, are the complete opposite of Peter’s. In the beginning, she makes it explicit that she sees no path forward for herself at Seymour Surveys.

Beyond the physical differences between Marian and Peter's living spaces, the scene within Peter’s apartment exemplifies the emotional rift between them, as neither seems to understand the other. Peter makes general statements about Marian that she disagrees with, like praising her for being unlike the women who demand marriage and have robbed him of his bachelor friends. Marian, however, never voices her dissatisfaction. She is passively dissatisfied and alienated, in the same way that she maintains a distant silence within her career.

When Marian, Peter, Len, and Ainsley meet at the bar, the beginning of the seduction plot between Ainsley and Len begins to unfold. Ainsley, following through on her vow to seek a father for her plan to get pregnant, begins to court Len. Again, although this action makes Marian uncomfortable, she says nothing, instead leaving the bar and then excusing herself to the bathroom in order to avoid the conversations that the rest of the group is having. Marian is unsure of what to do, asking herself “What could I do?” while outside of the bar, but feels trapped by Ainsley’s vindictive nature and fears that Ainsley will retaliate by somehow creating problems between Marian and Peter.

When Marian further alienates herself from all the relationships within her life by physically separating herself in the midst of a social scene, she also begins to experience severe dissociation. She talks to herself and sees “lines” that move quickly when she is outside. When she returns to the bar, her hearing is distorted, and she feels like Peter’s voice is getting “louder and faster” in a conversation that she finds “impossible to follow.” She begins to cry without noticing, totally separating herself from her body as it starts to act unconsciously. All the while, the influence of alcohol is emphasized, as Marian repeats over and over again that she feels uncomfortably drunk—a feeling that she earlier said is one she avoids. The scene ends with Marian’s abrupt run away from the group as they leave the bar. This fleeing is a desperate attempt at escape, and one that changes Marian’s passive behavior into action.