“Carol’s glamour is obviously something she’s learned. She’s a beautiful woman, but she knows how to dress, and move, and behave in a way that has gotten her to this place. In the book, you learn that she wasn’t born into this class; she acquired that discipline and that self-presentation that has a certain societal value. And yet: she’s done all the right things, but it hasn’t led her to contentment or happiness. So she looks elsewhere.” - Todd Haynes, Director of Carol.
There are days where she doesn’t get out of bed. There are days where she lies there in her day-old clothes, smoking and drinking and fluttering in and out of sleep. Something to forget the mess her life has become.
On these days, Abby has to drive over and peel her off her bed, like tape off a table. She has to coax her to drink something besides alcohol, to eat something. It’s unfair, really, and it makes Carol realize that she’s mostly taken advantage of their friendship. Someday, she’ll get her ass outside and repay her, whenever that day comes.
Up until a short while ago, she had done everything right. And maybe it was because everything turned out so wrong despite doing everything right that she did what she did.
When her parents showed her off to their guests, she let them while hating the scrutinizing eyes of random strangers. When they shipped her off to boarding school, she went even though she feared being alone. And when they showered her with marriage prospects, she didn’t object despite having dreams of going to college.
Her parents had been so proud when she met Harge. Harge, the upperclassman, the successful business person, the future inheritor of the Airds’ immense wealth. He was everything Carol’s parents wanted and nothing she herself wanted. Still, she married him and smiled as if her hopes had not been dashed.
Then, she played the role of the good housewife, the hostess. She learned to smile and nod and laugh at the right times. She would latch herself to Harge’s side at events, having her hands shook and kissed by men she hardly knew. She endured creepy stares and compliments while Harge was oblivious to her discomfort.
She remembers a home economics class she once did, those ridiculous things they taught in order to keep a happy household. Happy husband makes a happy wife and look where that took her. Now, she’s stuck in the midst of a raging custody battle that she’ll most definitely lose. Abby’s wasting her efforts cheering her up, Therese hates her. Her lawyer’s being paid for no particular reason, now that Harge has the tapes.
She’s married up, she’s had kids, she’s cooked and cleaned and entertained. She’s upheld her’s and Harge’s image, she’s impressed and flattered. But apparently, all those right things did nothing but turn her life into his molten pile of trash. She doesn’t even have the energy to sift through for anything useful that could be left over.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
She’s missed one.