Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Haley Reading (Group A) -- American Spy, Chapters 6 - 9


[Haley Reading groups Fall 2020]

By Boluwatife O. Ojewande

In chapter Seven of American Spy, Marie recalls how her sister had protected her from being drowned by a girl named Rhonda. Helen has always been interested in becoming an intelligence, therefore, she would make friends just to turn on them. This made Helene attack Rhonda one year after Rhonda tried to have Marie drowned at the pool.

Helene reveals her frightening patience: “I was practicing something. Spies have to be able to get close to people, then turn on them” (63).

We might want to think about whether Helene assaulted Rhonda to protect Marie or a mere practice of what spies do.

In that scene or any other scene from the reading, what stood out to concerning the relationship between Marie, Helene, and the notion of spies? 

21 comments:

Paige G. said...

In that scene specifically Helene’s calm demeanor is what stuck out most to me. While Marie was frightened for her sister, Helene just played it off as though that was something a normal child would do. Helene to me comes across as though she has problems making connections with those around her, such that she feels the need to hide behind a persona. Another scene that stuck out was the one when Helene was telling Marie she enlisted. At the end of the encounter Helene was described as having glassy eyes like she was about to cry. Bottom line Helene truly cared for her sister and Marie the same but this “spy mentality” she crafted took precedence over her feelings.

Lesley S. said...

It seems as though that in that scene, Helene was trying to act like how a spy would but she also brought up how Rhonda almost drowned Marie a little after that, pretty much justifying the sudden aggressiveness. What stuck out to me the most is how Helene was able to just shrug the fact that she just got into a physical fight and was worrying about eggs instead.

Spies do seem to be disconnected from their emotions but we can tell from their relationship that Helene does really care about her sister, but she tends to hide her real emotions. When their father decided to send Helene to her mother after he found out about the fight, Marie points out how her sister turns up the music to drown out the sound of her crying. That shows us the wall that Helene has built around her, something a spy would need to be able to carry out their missions.

K Carter said...


The way Helene acted afterward stuck out to me. She spoke to Marie as if nothing just happened, asking her about the eggs she was supposed to get. Spies do things and act like nothing happened. It seemed like Helene was slowly trying to show Marie what being a spy takes and what kind of person they have to be.

Marie looks up to Helene and seems like she wants a close relationship, but Helene seems more distant. When Helene is upset, she doesn't like to talk about it. I find them to have an odd relationship because usually, people's sisters are their best friend who they tell everything to.

Brighten B. said...

Marie thinks that their relationship is very close, but Helene is kind of on her own. Helene protects and cares about Marie but in a way that gets her in trouble. After fighting Rhonda, Helene was able to just move on and act normal again, which was very odd and interesting to me. Helene is so interested in being a spy that she let it take over her life. She became “good” friends with Rhonda for a whole year and then decided to get revenge. She did this because that is what spies do and she wanted so badly to be a spy.

Paris S. said...

In that scene, Helene's calm behavior really stood out. It was interesting in how Helene was able to put aside the fact that she got into a fight with Rhonda. However, I think that Helene really cares about her sister because she fought for her. Helene also cares about maintaining the notion of a spy in order to justify the aggressiveness she showed in that scene.

Tatiana D. said...

In this part of the story, Helene's ability to carry out her volatile actions in such a careless manner is what stood out to me the most. Her provided rationale for behaving so strangely apparently derives from her strong desire to practice detachment, however this behavior simply doesn't sit well with myself. After reading this chapter, it appears to me Helene is simply using her future career as a cover-up and or an excuse to partake in violent activities, which is odd and stands out to me as a reader.

Ashanti Y said...

In this scene the book, Helene's quiet demeanor truly stuck out. It was fascinating to see how Helene had the option to set aside the way that she got into a battle with Rhonda. However, I can only imagine that Helene truly thinks about her sister ever since she battled for her. After reading this chapter it shows Helene wants to try to use her spy role as a cover up but really it made her detach from people important to her. This role as a spy in her life makes her think about keeping up the thought of a government agent so as to legitimize the forcefulness she appeared in that scene.

myaj said...

In this scene the behavior of Helen stood out. She was extremely calm and she just shrugged off the fact that she had just gotten into a fight. This makes me believe that she was trying to act like a spy in order to justify the violence she had just committed. Additionally, Helen also became good friends with Rhonda for a year just to turn on her like a spy would. This shows that from a young age Helen let becoming a spy almost over-take all of her actions in her life because it was so important to her.

Jaelyn C. said...

In the scene, Helene was focused solely on protecting her sister. Marie describes her as being "in a fugue state" and uses the word "mechanical" to refer to her actions. Despite the fact that Helene and Rhonda were friends, her instincts as a spy took over since her sister was in trouble. Helene states that she was practicing a spy technique, being able to get close to someone and turn on them with no hesitation. Even though she's not a spy, she's taught herself how to use spy techniques; whether for a good reason or a bad reason is lost on me.

Unknown said...

Helene's calm and careless demeanor is what stood out to me. She had built this wall around her emotions growing up, something we can see when she turns the music up louder to muffle the sound of her crying. You can tell that Helene has really committed to practicing being a spy because of this. As a spy, she has to stay calm in trying situations, such as a fight, as well as learn to separate, or wall off, emotions to be able to carry out tasks that may be hard, like saying goodbye. However, you can tell that she truly does care about her sister.
-Kylie Jackson

Janielle F. said...

In the scenes after Helene assaulted Marie, the thing that stood out the most to me was the fact that the nature of Helene and Marie’s relationship was starting to change. While they were still close as sisters, Helene started to take on a more secretive role and would do things without Marie’s knowledge or would do things for unknown reasons that Helene would later reveal. For example, Helene hung out with Rhonda for a long time before assaulting her as a form of revenge for trying to drown Marie and probably never planned on telling her what happened until she was forced to.

Kendall Fry said...

In this scene specifically I believe what stood out to me was Helene's ability to remain so calm, it was rather striking actually. It is obvious that from a very young age Helene had committed herself to the life of a spy, she was set on perfecting her craft and practicing in all aspects possible. Noticeable aspects of Helene's practices include downplaying the fight she had just gotten into as well as befriending Rhonda simply to betray her roughly one year later. Though it was obvious Helene cares for her sister when she saved Marie from drowning, I believe it is pushing the envelope as far as becoming friends with Rhonda and carrying out so called "revenge' a full year later. This may have been her own inclination towards violent practices pushing her to do so.

Aalita Cole said...

In this scene, what stood out to me the most was Helene's ability to hide her true feelings toward anyone in order to get revenge. After that she develops a calm/nonchalant attitude towards everything and always tries to hide her feelings. For example towards the end of the chapter Marie and Helene get into an argument on their way to go box each-other, Marie ends up hitting her with a little more emotion and Helene faked like everything was okay in order to get back at her the next round.

It seems like Helene is trying to dismiss all of her emotions in order to further enhance her "spy mentality."

Jania Garrison said...

In this particular scene, the thing that stood out the most to me was Helene and her calm demeanor after she got in a fight with Rhonda and the fact that she befriended her just so she would be able to get close enough with her to turn on her. Helene showed little to no emotions, to me this proves how committed she was to being a spy. After reading this part of the story it seemed that Helene was using spy tactics to cover up deeper personal issues she had.

Tiffany E. said...

Tiffany E:

I think what stood out to me the most was the fact that Helene seemed like she had no emotions whatsoever, like she was animated. Like even though Rhonda was supposedly a friend, she showed no remorse whatsoever. You can flip on people and feel bad about it, but she didn't, she was "amused", as it said in the book. That was just really interesting to me. And that's what really stood out.

Aalita Cole said...

In this scene, what stood out to me the most was Helene's ability to hide her true feelings toward anyone in order to get revenge. After that she develops a calm/nonchalant attitude towards everything and always tries to hide her feelings. For example towards the end of the chapter Marie and Helene get into an argument on their way to go box each-other, Marie ends up hitting her with a little more emotion and Helene faked like everything was okay in order to get back at her the next round.

It seems like Helene is trying to dismiss all of her emotions in order to further enhance her "spy mentality."

Kiya Rainey said...

What I find the most concerning about the relationship between Helene, Marie, and the notion of spies is that I believe Helene does very violent things to others in order to protect Marie. Instead of Helene actively enjoying her childhood, she instead focuses on what a spy would do in a situation, which is very unhealthy. Helene should be focusing on how she actually feels about a situation and how she would react, not focusing on what her idea of a spy would do.

I find that this hurts Helene and Marie's relationship because they lack an emotional connection. Although it is clear that they love one another, Helene is far too closed off, especially as a child. She needs to learn how to communicate with Marie instead of acting as if protecting Marie is her mission.

-Kiya Rainey

Tymia S. said...

What stood out most to me was Helene's lack of emotion and her commitment to being a spy. She was very calm after the fight happened, which would be odd in any other situation. Helene seems like she is too focused on being a spy to let her real emotions out

Nyah Crockett said...

What stood out to me the most about this scene was Helene's demeanor. She wasn't fazed at all by how she beat Rhonda up. Her attitude seems calculated and mechanical, like she was going through the emotions and not feeling like a human being. I feel like the reasons Helene attacked Rhonda were both because she wanted to emulate what a real spy was like and because she wanted to protect Marie. She attacked Rhonda because she tried to drown Marie, and she hid her emotions and focused on her task because that's what a spy would do.

Unknown said...

I noticed that Helene had programmed herself to act and think like a spy starting with her local encounters. Her love and defense for Marie sparked the initial rage and reaction from Helene, but from Rhonda’s apology continuing up to Helene assaulting Rhonda after befriending her, Helene was practicing spy tactics. Helene maintains a close relationship with Marie potentially in hopes of inspiring and protecting her. One can tell that Marie is inspired by Helene because Marie now acts the way she portrayed Helene. The way she analyzes first impressions and the way he handles relationships and obstacles are most like her sister. Marie’s relationship with Helene shaped and stands as an explanation for Marie’s purpose.

- Victoria Richardson

Marianne Huck said...

Something I found very interesting in that particular scene was the way Helene was so detached the beating she gave her friend. It was so chilling the way it was described from Marie's point of view. The quote, "Helene landed one last punch and stood abruptly like some internal timer went off." At 12 years old she already had developed a way to block her herself from the horror of violence.

Marianne Huck