Chapter 41 

Evelyn and Harry adore their daughter Connor, and the two parents grow closer and closer as they raise her together. Evelyn feels as though she finally has a real family, and she finally feels like a wife. Connor lives with Evelyn and Celia, and Harry lives with John. He visits often to be with them. 

Celia encourages Evelyn to take a part that was originally offered to Celia in Max’s film Three A.M. Celia says that, after having a baby, Evelyn needs to take a sexy role to show the world that she’s not just a mother. Evelyn is grateful for the push and accepts the role even though Don will be her costar. 

Chapter 42 

Monique asks Evelyn why she agreed to take the role when Don had abused her in their marriage. Evelyn tells her it’s complicated. Because Don was in a decline in his life, Evelyn felt like she had the power and that she had nothing to lose. She no longer felt threatened. 

Chapter 43 

Evelyn and Don meet for sandwiches. He immediately apologizes for the past. Evelyn says that an apology doesn’t really cover it. He gives her a more heartfelt explanation and takes responsibility for how badly he behaved, and Evelyn softens to him. She says that while they aren’t friends, they can be friendly. 

Chapter 44 

Evelyn, Celia, Harry, John, and Connor have a family picnic together. They have a lovely time and Evelyn says it’s one of the last times they are all together having fun. She says that she ruined everything after that.  

Chapter 45 

Evelyn works very hard shooting Three A.M. and finds herself apologizing to Celia often for her absence. Max suggests that the movie needs a real depiction of Evelyn’s character’s pleasure when she’s having sex with Don’s character. Portraying a woman’s pleasure on screen is a risk, and Evelyn wants to do it. She says she should have told Celia before she shot the scene with her ex-husband, but she kept it from her. She lets go in the scene and does just what Max wants.  

Evelyn cries afterward and realizes that she has betrayed Celia. She goes home and retroactively asks for Celia's permission to shoot the scene, and Celia says that she wouldn't be able to bear it. When Evelyn tells her that she’s already shot the scene, Celia says she can’t handle just having part of Evelyn all the time. Celia leaves her. Evelyn tracks Celia down and begs Celia to come back, promising to give up acting. Celia says Evelyn could never give it up and that Evelyn can’t belong to anyone.  

Chapter 46 

Monique asks if Celia and Evelyn's relationship was really over, and Evelyn says it was. Monique asks if it was worth it, and Evelyn says no. She says that Don won an Oscar for his role in Three A.M., but she didn’t because she lost the public's respect by being too sexual. Monique observes that Evelyn is still angry about the disrespect she felt after the film. Monique asks if being bisexual put a strain on Evelyn’s relationship with Celia and suggests she lost Celia because of her sexual relationship with men. Evelyn says that her relationship with Celia suffered because she was obsessed with fame. She says she never cheated on Celia, but she used her body to get what she wanted and couldn’t stop doing that. Evelyn tells Monique that she’s not a good person. Monique argues with her, but Evelyn says that Monique is going to change her mind about that. 


Evelyn’s sexual presentation enters a tug-of-war between the public eye and Celia’s expectations. Before becoming a mother, Evelyn is sometimes viewed as overly sexual and is judged by the media for being married so many times. Meanwhile, Celia judges her for the way she uses her sexuality to get what she needs. After Evelyn becomes a mother, the narrative around her sexuality changes. Evelyn risks being desexualized, and Celia encourages her to get out ahead of the narrative by establishing herself as still desirable and bold. When Max presents the idea of showing Evelyn’s raw desire in the film, Evelyn is excited about pushing the envelope. When Evelyn films the scene, she does it because it makes a statement and feels artistically true to her. But though she knows she gave a good performance, she feels as though she has given away the part of herself that belongs to Celia, and Celia reads the scene as a betrayal. Both women are in a double bind: Evelyn is criticized both for being too sexual and not being sexual enough, and though Celia encourages Evelyn to explore her on-screen sexuality on her own terms, Celia also wants to define for Evelyn what those terms are. 

These chapters explore the complexities of morality and ambition. Up until this point, the professional decisions that Evelyn has made have been born out of ambition. She marries Ernie, sleeps with Ari, masks her Cuban identity, and falsifies her romantic life all so she can succeed in the very narrow definition of success that is open to her as a woman of color in the early 20th century. Before these chapters, doing what was right never mattered as much to Evelyn as doing what would help her get ahead. However, what Evelyn strives for starts to shift. She films the risqué sex scene out of a creative rather than professional ambition. And as she notices her beauty fading and her body aging, she understands how ephemeral beauty is and how much she wants to strive for something more lasting, such as creative expression or love. Because her priorities are shifting, she is also more concerned about the morality of her actions. After shooting the scene, Evelyn feels shame for the first time. The shame isn’t rooted in her act of sexual expression, but she is instead ashamed because she knows she has done something to harm the woman she loves.  

For Evelyn, happiness is often only possible when she is hiding or in disguise. For example, at the picnic for Harry’s 45th birthday, Evelyn, Celia, Harry, and John are all in disguise. They wear wigs and glasses so they can picnic in relative anonymity. This parallels the way that Evelyn and her family are often in disguise, whether that’s through false narratives planted in the press or by playing the role of each other’s beards in public to hide gay relationships. Evelyn calls the picnic one of the last moments the four of them were happy together. In contrast, when Evelyn lets herself go and inhabits her pleasure in the filming of Three A.M., she is in many ways undisguised. She doesn’t simulate pleasure for the camera but instead inhabits the very personal expression of real desire. This is not a desire for Don. It is a desire rooted in herself. This moment of honesty is immediately met with shame and ultimately results in the breakup of her relationship and her family. Entangled with the people she loves and the personae she’s created, Evelyn finds very little space in her life to be unmasked or to be truly known and happy.