Sharp Objects Summary and Study Guide

Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects

  • 42-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 17 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by an English instructor with an MFA in Creative Writing
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Sharp Objects Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 42-page guide for “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 17 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Exploitation of the Female Body and Social Stratification in Rural America.

Plot Summary

Gilliam Flynn’s Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille, a crime reporter living in Chicago. After a little girl goes missing in Camille’s hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, Camille’s boss talks her into going home to report on the disappearance. Although she is reluctant to revisit her hometown, a place she hasn’t seen in over ten years, she is eager to please her boss and gives in to his pleas. Most the novel takes place in Wind Gap as Camille tries to connect details of the little girl’s disappearance to a previous murder, while also trying to avoid her past. Told from Camille’s point of view, the straightforward and often vulgar syntax reflects her journalistic background and the bitter view she has of her environment.

While the novel technically starts with Camille sitting in her Chicago office at the Daily Post, the plot really begins once she enters Wind Gap. Wind Gap seems like a normal small Midwestern town, but it quickly becomes clear that Camille and her hometown share many dark secrets.Camille immediately begins drinking once she reenters her hometown, and continues to do so for most of the novel. Her obsessive drinking demonstrates her desire to forget her past. Most notably, Camille tries not to think about her little sister, who died of a mysterious illness, while also trying to reconcile the contempt between she, her mother, and her little half-sister. It’s revealed that Camille used to carve words into her body with sharp objects, and that she was recently released from a self-imposed stay at a psychiatric hospital.

While Camille’s internal struggle is the heart of the novel, the external plot revolving around the Wind Gap child murders gives the novel forward momentum. Throughout each chapter, Camille talks to various people, including police detectives and her former friends and acquaintances, ultimately leading her to uncover the truth behind the crimes—her mother slowly poisoned her little sister to death, and her half-sister killed the little girls.

Although the general plot is a straightforward murder mystery, the many subplots, including Camille’s budding romance with the out-of-town detective, complicate the narrative and reveal Camille’s metamorphosis as a character. While Camille starts out as secretive and self-harming, by the end she has become self-aware and accepting of love.

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Chapters 1-3