The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 2

As Proctor shelters in a restaurant to avoid the rain, he waits for Lisa to get closer and calls out her name. He convinces her that they should go to Bar Bruno, a restaurant, for coffee. As they talk, Proctor reveals that he is investigating the death of Lisa’s family. Furthermore, he reiterates his belief that Lisa is a pseudonym for Stephanie Patrick, whose parents and siblings had been murdered together with other passengers aboard a plane. Although the authorities had concluded that the plane crash was an accident, Proctor’s theory is that it was a bombing. When he relays this to Lisa, she dismisses it as a conspiracy theory and leaves the bar. Even though Proctor assumes that she is indifferent to the new information about her family’s murder, Lisa had been attentive. However, she believes that the lives of her family members are irretrievable and it is hopeless to pursue those responsible. Later, she reminisces about hearing the hard-hitting news of the death of her family that ultimately pushed her into the prostituting lifestyle. To mask her pain and grief, she turns to alcohol and hard drugs. 


In this chapter, the author portrays how Stephanie’s guise, Lisa, is a consequence of her denial in accepting the deaths of her family members. Although she barely remembers why she chose her lifestyle, she admits that she has developed an impenetrable wall to hide her vulnerability. When she says “physical pain means nothing to me”, the author portrays the misery that Lisa has had to face (Burnell, 20). Furthermore, when Proctor enquires about her bruised wrists, Stephanie says that they are simply a hazard of her occupation. To cope with her life as a prostitute, she abuses drugs because she is afraid that her guilt and self-loathing will overwhelm her. She says, “the hatred I feel for myself is too much to bear and it scares me to consider the options” (Burnell, 21). Therefore, she would rather remain intoxicated as it prevents her from experiencing her shame and self-disgust.

Also, the author portrays Proctor’s character as being investigative. Despite the police report that concluded the plane crash to be an accident, he was determined to prove that it was murder. Proctor tells Lisa that “your parents were murdered… along with everyone else on that flight” (Burnell, 19). Moreover, Proctor is portrayed as a protective character. He states that the terrorist who killed Stephanie’s parents is roaming freely in London. Therefore, by reaching out to her, he not only expects to solve the murder mystery of Stephanie’s family, but also to warn her of any impending danger.

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