If you’ve not already read it, I would suggest popping over to my breakdown for Chapter One first. It’s not wholly necessary, but there are a lot of noteworthy pieces to it that tie into why it is so evident to me that Shatter Me romanticizes abuse. We’re not even close to meeting Warner yet, but he’s already an important character in the events of this series. His abuses of Juliette began even before he met her. It’s thoroughly interesting that this is the case considering the titles of these books.
Chapter two begins with the rain.
Juliette spends a fair amount of time in the beginning of this chapter comparing herself to raindrops. This was fascinating to me the first time and is even more fascinating to me now. This commentary on what her entire life has been like, what she has experienced from the moment people realized what she could do, is so depressing. It is the beginning of what will quickly become an immense amount of Juliette dehumanizing and rehumanizing herself within the confines of her own thoughts. She can’t determine for herself whether she is an object of evil, to be acted upon rather than have any agency, or if she is someone who has been hurt and neglected.
Now, just think about that for a moment. If this is how she views herself, what does that mean for what Warner will later do to her?
Touch is immensely integral to Juliette’s character.
The sad thing about it is the fact that she is both starved for it and terrified of it. What’s even worse is the fact that, oftentimes, when Juliette does experience touch it is regularly without her consent. She can literally murder by touching someone, has the ultimate power of protection, and yet somehow it is flipped around so that instead of being empowered by her abilities, Juliette feels helpless and backed into a corner. Being touched is almost never her decision. She both craves and is terrified of being touched. But while she has this deep desire for it, especially around people she views as non-threatening, Juliette’s fear of it regularly overpowers this want. Her need to be accepted and to not hurt others is ultimately her deciding factor.
Juliette also spends an exceptional amount of time warring with herself. She has so many conflicting wants, conflicting needs, and conflicting beliefs that she can never quite make her mind up on anything. She is an object, she is not an object. She wants to be touched, she never wants to be touched. She needs affection, she cannot have affection. Countless contradictions war inside of her mind and she is left forever uncertain of herself and her place. Above all else, Juliette craves acceptance and kindness. But, as she feels she will not get anything of such in her world, she also craves escape. And, with the knowledge that she will not get that, either, Juliette’s response is to show kindness. So much of this response is shrouded in her desperation to prove that she is not the monster that everyone, even she, believes she is.
So, what we are left with is a girl who wants desperately to be good.
She wants to be someone who her parents could have loved. Juliette ultimately sees herself, and her power, as something that has made her less worthy of care and affection. It is for this exact reason that, when she finally meets Warner, his obsession with her ability to hurt others disgusts her so. But, since what he knows of her is that she has this ability and he, himself, turns to cruelty and violence wherever he can, Warner does not even pause for a second to consider that she may have no interest in hurting people.
His desires, in the end, remain more important. His view of the world remains the only one he can perceive. Now, this flaw in his character isn’t something I would condemn him for as a villain. But as a love interest, it is unforgivable.