54 pages • 1 hour readE. L. James
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Published in 2011, Fifty Shades Darker is E. L. James’s second installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy. Anastasia Steele has ended her relationship with entrepreneur Christian Grey after feeling daunted by his specific tastes and shady secrets. However, when Christian proposes a new arrangement, Ana cannot help herself, and they rekindle their romance. As Christian grapples with his inner demons, Ana must face the woman who came before her and make a life-altering decision.
This guide uses the Bloom Books e-book edition of the novel. Pagination may vary greatly compared to physical copies of the novel.
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Content Warning: This guide discusses sexual assault, sex with ambiguous consent, domestic violence, coercive control, and the neglect, abuse, and sexual grooming of a minor.
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The novel opens as Ana finishes her workday at her new job as an assistant at a publishing house. A few days later, Christian asks if he can take her to her friend José’s art show. At the gallery, Ana sees that one of the main pieces of art is a photo she did not know José had taken of her. Christian buys the photo and insists they leave. They argue, but outside, Christian roughly kisses her, and she folds to him.
At a small restaurant, they discuss their last sexual encounter, during which Ana failed to use their agreed-upon safe word. She states that she forgot. On the way home, Christian proposes a new arrangement with more traditional sex.
The next day, they email, and it soon turns erotic. Christian then warns Ana that her emails are being monitored. She feels horrified and wonders how he knows. That evening, Ana’s boss, Jack, invites her to join some coworkers at a bar. As she leaves the office, a woman confronts her and demands to know what Ana has that she does not, though she refuses to identify herself.
Christian picks Ana up from the bar, clashing briefly with Jack. Later, Christian admits his jealousy toward Jack, telling her he bought SIP, the company Ana works for, out of protectiveness.
That night, Ana tells Christian about the woman who confronted her; he determines it is Leila Williams, a former submissive who is upset about her treatment.
The next day, Ana sees Christian talking to Elena Lincoln, an older woman with whom Christian used to be involved. When he receives a call from his security advisor, Christian cryptically says they must leave, later telling Ana that she must stay with him until they find Leila.
Christian explains his business arrangement with Elena, stating that when he dropped out of Harvard, she loaned him $100,000 to start his first business. Days later, Christian announces to Ana that they are to attend a masked ball fundraiser. There, when Ana excuses herself to go to the restroom, she runs into Elena, who threatens Ana. Ana counters that Elena sexually abused Christian when he was just 15 and is the reason for his “issues.”
Ana and Christian return home to find Ana’s car vandalized; the security men search the apartment. Ana and Christian go to a hotel. The next day, he takes her out on his boat, which he claims no other woman has ever set foot on, apart from his mother and sister.
When Ana goes to work a few days later, Christian makes certain she takes a member of his security with her. At work, Jack asks Ana to go to a symposium with him in New York, where they will have to stay overnight. Christian, however, uses his position as the company owner to ensure that she cannot book the flight to New York, and Jack soon tells Ana she cannot attend the conference.
Christian says Jack has never had an assistant last for more than a few months because he is “sleazy.” Ana soon discovers that Jack continues to invade her personal space and make overt advances toward her. Ana agrees to move in with Christian, and they talk about marriage.
As Ana arrives at her apartment, Christian receives an urgent phone call, and Ana goes upstairs alone. There, she finds Leila with a gun. When Christian and Taylor arrive, Christian takes on the dominant role, and Leila falls to the floor. Christian orders Ana to leave the room.
When Ana sees Christian carry Leila out of the room in a blanket, she realizes she cannot be everything Christian needs. Christian begs her not to leave, falling to the floor in submission. Ana begs Christian to tell her the secret behind his behavior; he admits he is a sadist and that all his submissive women have had the same features as his mother. He says he is working on the issue with Dr. Flynn. That night, when Ana wakes him from a nightmare, he explains that his early childhood was rife with physical abuse.
The next day, Ana is late for work, and Jack repeatedly derides her throughout the day. He finally corners her in the kitchen of the office and demands sex from her, but she kicks him in the groin and runs. She finds Taylor and Christian waiting for her outside; Christian comforts her. He then makes a phone call to SIP leadership demanding Jack’s dismissal from the publishing company.
When Ana tries to reach Christian a few days later, she is unable to and becomes worried. She learns that Christian’s helicopter has vanished on its way back from Portland. Christian’s family and Ana’s friends arrive at his apartment and listen to the news reports with concern. Suddenly, Christian walks through the door, dirty and exhausted. After the plane crashed, he and his pilot walked for hours and finally caught a ride.
Ana presents Christian with a small box and tells him to open it because it is his birthday. It is a plastic key ring with the word “Yes” written on it. He realizes she has agreed to marry him.
At a party celebrating Christian’s return, he announces their engagement. Christian and Ana confront Elena about the past. When alone, Christian presents Ana with a large and simply cut diamond ring.
Meanwhile, outside, Jack is watching the property. Readers learn he was the one who tampered with Christian’s helicopter. Jack sits in wait, knowing he will one day have his revenge.
By E. L. James