I'm reading Fifty Shades of Grey. There's one passage that I don't understand:

I close my eyes and take a deep, purifying breath, trying to recover what’s left of my equilibrium. No man has ever affected me the way Christian Grey has, and I cannot fathom why. Is it his looks? His civility? Wealth? Power? I don’t understand my irrational reaction.

On one hand, this seems like a stupid question. Anastasia spends the next paragraph talking about how handsome he is. On the other hand, Fifty Shades of Grey seems to be popular, and presumably the language has some role in its popularity.

Why does Anastasia describe her reaction as "irrational"? Why can't she understand it?


2 Answers 2


The FSOG series was originally written as an all-human AU fanfic of Twilight. Ana and Christian are expies (exported characters) of Bella and Edward. In erotic fanfic, it's common for Character A to feel an intense, unexplainable draw towards Character B when the writer intends for A and B to end up together. (This can be disconcerting if you misread the tags and think you're reading, for example, a story about Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes and it turns out to be about Steve and Sam Wilson.)

It's not a surprise if she feels the attraction simply because she does. Neither the FSOG series nor the source series are well written.

Hamlet notes in his comments that the question here is about the choice of the word "irrational." There is no reason for that particular word. FSOG is badly-written fanfic based on badly-written source material. If the attraction were in fact irrational, that setup comes from widely-used fanfic tropes and clichés, which are not in and of themselves problematic. Since Ana does pile on the reasons why she'd be attracted to Christian, her attraction is not irrational.

So James might have been word-salading because she's not a particularly attentive writer, or, presuming she had an editor, the editor didn't catch the mistake.

  • @Hamlet Why is what the case? Why does a given writer ship characters A and B? I can't answer that. My response to the question is "The writer makes Ana feel that way because EL James wants to see Ana and Christian have sex." That's it. That's the reason. There's no character development, there's no plot twist. James was writing about Bella and Edward getting it on. When the stories became popular, she filed off the serial numbers and published it as "original." Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 21:21
  • 1
    Sorry, my comment was unclear. The point I was trying to make is that the question asks about specific language (she describes their attraction as "irrational"). And I'm not really sure if you've answered the question, which is why does this character use that particular word to describe the attraction. I suppose you could argue that the stories are poorly written and there's no use in trying to read specific meaning in the word choice, but I would recommend making it explicit in your answer that you're arguing that.
    – user111
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 21:30
  • @Hamlet ...yeah, I wouldn't have the least idea why "irrational" is what she chose. I'll edit. Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 12:35

There are several (possibly conflicting) reasons for the use of the term "irrational".

  • First, as the quote you offered indicated, her self-image is that of someone not passionately falling for someone. So, this seems out of character for her, from her own point of view.

  • Second, the whole notion of falling for someone because of their wealth/power internally conflicts with many ideals of feminism (I don't have a strong proof that Anastasia is feminist, but given her demographic characteristics, it's an overwhelming probability she is, or at the very least, is convinced she should be).

  • Third, while BDSM isn't in the picture yet when that quotation is made, it does foreshadow the future conflict; that of BDSM (the "power" is mentioned here, which is the basis for most of BDSM) vs. feminist views. Feminism has a lot of tension regarding BDSM, which is complicated and probably offtopic here to explain in detail; but suffice it to say that Fifty Shades type of "BDSM" seems to be universally derided by both anti-BDSM feminists AND BDSM practitioners regardless of feminism, though for different reasons.

    This isn't exactly helped by a parallel tension between sex-positivity and typical "sex is negative" view common to USA. Ms. Steele seems to view herself as what is socially described as a "good girl".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.