Literature / Petals on the Wind
Petals on the Wind,
written by V. C. Andrews
, is the sequel to Flowers in the Attic
, published in 1980. Adapted
into a TV movie of the same name by The Lifetime Network
The plot picks up immediately after the events of the first novel after the Dollanganger children escape from the attic. The kids are adopted by Paul Sheffield, a kindly doctor who puts them each through school. Cathy finally fulfills her dream of becoming a world-famous ballerina, using her fame to fuel her revenge against her mother while becoming embroiled in a series of tempestuous love affairs, including her Will They or Won't They?
relationship with her brother Christopher. Everyone Has Lots of Sex
, until tragedy strikes, hardening Cathy's resolve to expose her mother's murderous lies and claim victory over her own past.
Tropes associated with the novel include:
- Artistic License – Biology:
- Carrie's health problems should not have lingered on as long as they have. Being so young, she would have thrived after treatment for her sunlight deprivation, malnutrition, and arsenic poisoning compared to her older siblings. Instead, however, her growth is stunted and she's forever dainty and pale.
- Being a doctor, Paul should have rushed Cathy to an OB-GYN when she said she hadn't menstruated for more than two months. That one act could have avoided a lot of drama at her audition.
- Awesome Mc Cool Name: Madame Zolta Korovenskov.
- Bastard Boyfriend: Cathy's love interests tend to have unsavory characteristics. Julian's a Jerk Ass Domestic Abuser with few redeeming qualities who rapes Cathy, Bart Winslow has many Jerk Ass moments, which also include raping Cathy. Paul was unfaithful to his wife and raped her, eventually driving her to drown his son and almost kill herself, and Chris is dangerously obsessed with Cathy and gets violently upset when Cathy tells him to move on.
- Betty and Veronica:
- Cathy plays the innocent blonde Betty to Yolanda's sultry raven-haired Veronica when it comes to Julian and to a lesser extent, Chris.
- Cathy's a constant Archie to several of her men. First, Chris is the Betty and Paul is the Veronica. Once Cathy lands Paul, he becomes the Betty and Julian becomes the Veronica. After Julian dies, both Chris and Paul become the Betty and Bart Winslow becomes the Veronica.
- For Bart Winslow, Corrine is the Betty and Cathy is the Veronica.
- Boarding School of Horrors: Carrie's private boarding school turns out to be a hellhole where her fellow students torment and very nearly kill her.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Cathy continues to struggle against Chris' advances, which eventually grow strong enough to drive her to other men.
- Cartwright Curse: Cathy, and how. Julian, Bart, Paul. She even bitterly lampshades this at the end of the book, wondering why Chris isn't afraid to get together with her, given that "behind me lay a trail of dead men".
- Cold-Blooded Torture: As tortures go, it's pretty light, but Cathy finally does get to inflict some physical pain on the now-senile and disabled grandmother.
- Dead Man's Chest: Cory's ultimate fate.
- Disposing of a Body: Hinted at in the book. Cathy reveals she found a room connected to the attic and the main stairway with a strange smell in it. When Corrine runs away to start the fire, she chose that room specifically to start it in.
- In the tv movie this is made explicit when Cory's body is in a trunk and Corrine directly tells Chris they have to get rid of the body.
- The Dog Bites Back: Cathy has sworn revenge upon her mother, resulting in several good examples of revenge tropes. The victim of Cathy's Misplaced Retribution is Bart Winslow. With whom she sleeps with and who is the father of her second son, Bart. All of this without ever telling Winslow the truth until it's too late. Later, Cathy attempts a Reunion Revenge at Foxworth Hall.
- Domestic Abuse:
- Julian (whose pickup line is "What are you worried about? I won't rape you") is emotionally, physically and sexually abusive toward Cathy, including a memorable scene where, in a fit of rage, he breaks several of her toes.
- Paul Sheffield was emotionally abusive toward his late wife and, as previously mentioned, he also raped her on several occasions.
- Driven to Suicide: Paul's late wife, Julian after an accident leaves him paralyzed and unlikely to even walk again, much less dance, and Carrie after her mother rejects her.
- Flat Character: Carrie never changes physically or mentally in the twelve years she's alive in the book.
- "Friends" Rent Control: Cathy manages to have nice apartments in both New York City and Spain while she's still in the low-paying corps de ballet.
- Freudian Excuse: Implied to be the root of Chris' obsession with Cathy.
- Generation Xerox: Cathy consciously struggles not to be like her mother.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery:
- Paul admits to cheating on his late wife, but excuses himself because she was mentally ill and sexually unresponsive. Cathy actually sympathizes with this story.
- Cathy is well-aware that Julian is attracted to very young girls, but doesn't hold it against him until she learns he molested her sister.
- Cathy justifies having an affair with her mother's husband Bart as part of her revenge.
- Hand Wave: Paul gaining custody over the kids looks as if it's going to end in a confrontational Courtroom Episode... but in the end, Corrine turns out to be too rich to subpoena and the scene ends with "and then he adopted us."
- Heel–Face Turn: Corrine, she secretly attends Carrie's funeral and reveals her father is the one who ordered her to kill her children. Though whether this is true or not is left ambiguous.
- Held Gaze: Chris and Cathy share a lot of these without even realizing it, allowing numerous people (Paul, Julian, Carrie) to pick up on their feelings for each other.
- Ill Girl: Carrie is especially frail and weak from arsenic poisoning. Not only that, she is miles behind her peers in weight and height, not getting much taller than four and a half feet when she's an adult.
- Immediate Sequel: Picks up right where the first book ended.
- I'm a Man, I Can't Help It: Nearly every male character in the book:
- Paul admits to raping his first wife because she was too beautiful for him to resist. When she (quite rightly) tells him he's never to touch her again, he uses the same logic to explain away his numerous extramarital affairs. Finally, he is unable to resist the beautiful sixteen-year-old Cathy, even though he has legally adopted her.
- Chris claims that he only had sex with Cathy's roommate because Cathy wouldn't put out. Cathy, lest we forget, is his sister.
- Bart has an affair with Cathy since his wife has become increasingly distant from him.
- Julian's mother blames Cathy for his frequent cheating, claiming that he does it in the first place because she doesn't show him enough love, then keeps doing it because her uncaring reaction even further cements his belief that she doesn't love him.
- Incest Subtext:
- In addition to the complicated relationship between Chris and Cathy, Paul is the children's foster parent and legal guardian, who later adopts them. He begins lusting after Cathy almost immediately.
- In the 2014 film adaptation, there is an uncomfortable scene where Carrie asks Chris if he loves her "the same way [he] loves Cathy"—having just witnessed Cathy and Chris having sex.
- It's All About Me: Cathy is extremely self-involved. She'll use anything terrible that happens to anyone else including Julian and Carrie's suicides to have her needs met and exact her revenge against her mother.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Julian is a possessive, controlling, abusive, and adulterous boyfriend and later husband, but he picks up on the impropriety of Chris and Cathy's relationship very quickly and calls her out on it.
- Conversely, Chris' dislike of Julian and disapproval of Cathy's relationship with Paul is no doubt mostly because of his incestuous feelings toward Cathy, but he's absolutely right about Julian's many flaws and the impropriety of Cathy and Paul's relationship given their age difference and that Paul was their guardian for several years.
- Kids Are Cruel: All the girls in Carrie's boarding school gang up to bully her. The only girl that tried to defend her ends up being punched in the face. Her main bully faces karma a few short years later by drowning at the age of twelve.
- The Littlest Cancer Patient: Poisoning rather than cancer, but Carrie conveniently holds back from death just long enough to tell Cathy the one final thing that will send her spiraling uncontrollably toward confronting her mother.
- Lolicon: Paul and Julian are a little too attached to younger girls, especially Julian who molests Carrie during one of her visits with them.
- Mammy: Henny personifies this trope. She's a huge Southern black lady who cares for her white charges with no complaints—possibly because she's deaf-mute.
- Marital Rape License: Used by Paul and Julian to Julia and Cathy, respectively. And implied with Bart and Corrinne—after he assaults Cathy and she calls him a rapist, he dismissively tells her, "My wife often says the same thing. But she enjoys it, just like you did."
- Morality Pet: Carrie to Cathy and Chris.
- Motive Rant: Corrine finally snaps in front of Cathy and Bart, revealing why she imprisoned her children.
- Murder Makes You Crazy: Hinted at in both the book and the 2014 adaptation.
- No Periods, Period: Zig-zagged. After years of malnutrition and other health-related issues from being locked up, Cathy understandably has trouble with her periods. It seems to have stopped entirely, until one memorable scene when it all comes gushing back. During a dance audition.
- Noodle Incident: When Paul sought help from Julia's mother as to why she was so terrified of sex, she mentioned "a cousin who did something to her when she was four". Despite the heavy implication that this was a rape or some other form of sexual abuse, no further details are given.
- Portmanteau: Julian + Cory = Jory.
- Replacement Goldfish: Julian and Paul are demoted to this after Bart dies, when Cathy claims to have fallen in Love at First Sight with him and that a large part of her attraction to Julian and Paul was because of their resemblance to him.
- There Are No Therapists: Julia refused to see one to help her get over her sexual fears and none of the kids see one despite how clearly screwed up they are from their ordeal.
- The Scapegoat: Corrine. While Corrine is legitimately at the root of many of her children's current issues, Cathy also performs some serious mental gymnastics to blame her for everything that goes wrong with their lives.
- The Speechless: Henny and later, the Grandmother.
- The Vamp: Yolanda. When she finally gets Julian, she dies in a car accident.
- Vanity Is Feminine: Type A. It is heavily implied that part of Corrine's evil is her obsession with her beauty. Her long absence to a plastic surgeon and a weight-loss spa allows Cathy to move in on Bart.
- Villainous Breakdown: After her Motive Rant, Corrine burns down Foxworth Hall.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: All Carrie wants is for her mother to acknowledge her when she meets the latter on the street. She doesn't get her wish.
- Wife Husbandry: Cathy is fifteen when Paul becomes their guardian. He lusts after her from the start and eventually she marries him.
- Your Cheating Heart: Good God, there are so many affairs. Paul has had at least two affairs while he was still married (a nurse and Cathy), Julian cheated on Cathy with Yolanda (and other women as well), Bart Winslow cheated on Corrine with Cathy (and other women as well, it's implied), and Cathy cheated on pretty much all of her men except for Bart.