The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 7
Summary

Proctor gets back to the house at around midnight and finds Stephanie cooking. As he tells her about Bradfield’s routine, he also enquires about her family. Before the fatal accident, they lived a simple life on the outskirts of London where they grew their own food and reared domestic animals just like farmers. Furthermore, there was a strained relationship between Stephanie and her parents due to her rebellious nature. For instance, although she was warned about the dangers of consuming alcohol, she says she goes “through a phase of getting drunk at every available opportunity and, if possible, in public” (Burnell, 57). After speaking about her family, Stephanie asks Proctor if he is gay because she has never seen him with another woman; — as well as how he has not made a move on her for the two months that they have lived together. Proctor is quick to make up the excuse that his work and travels prevent him from having a romantic life. However, he views Stephanie’s question as an invitation to hit on her — and as she cooks, he stands behind her and kisses her ear. Stephanie turns around and reciprocates the warm kiss for a split second before pushing him away. Suddenly, she becomes angry and threatens him with a knife. This altercation ends with Proctor’s arm being slit and Stephanie fleeing from his house.

Analysis

Although the author has been portraying a peaceful coexistence between Proctor and Stephanie, this chapter ends in conflict when Stephanie cuts Proctor’s arm before running away. This emphasizes how Stephanie has unresolved issues that she needs to get past. When Stephanie says “it’s too late to apologize”, her remorse is portrayed to the reader (Burnell, 57). She is filled with sadness and remorse due to the fact that she did not die like the rest of her family, and comes to the conclusion that she does not deserve a shot at happiness. Therefore, when Proctor hits on her, she responds by cutting his arm as a warning against getting himself emotionally attached to her. However, she still cares about him, which is shown when the narrator describes how she follows Proctor and watches him leave the hospital.

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