At the beginning of Chapter Twenty Four of Fifty Shades of Grey (the chapter when they go soaring) Ana has a dream that Christian is feeding her strawberries:
Christian stands in a steel-barred cage. Wearing his soft, ripped jeans, his chest and feet are mouthwateringly naked, and he’s staring at me. His private-joke smile is etched on his beautiful face and his eyes a molten gray. In his hands he holds a bowl of strawberries. He ambles with athletic grace to the front of the cage, gazing intently at me. Holding up a plump ripe strawberry, he extends his hand through the bars.
“Eat,” he says, his tongue caressing the front of his palate as he enunciates the ‘T’.
I try to move toward him, but I’m tethered, held back by some unseen force around my wrist, holding me. Let me go.
“Come, eat,” he says, smiling his delicious crooked smile.
I pull and pull… let me go! I want to scream and shout but no sound emerges. I am mute. He stretches a little further, and the strawberry is at my lips.
“Eat, Anastasia.” His mouth forms my name, lingering sensually on each syllable.
I open my mouth and bite, the cage disappears, and my hands are free. I reach up to touch him, graze my fingers through his chest hair.
Ana likens the scene to when Alec feeds Tess strawberries in Tess of the d’Urbervilles and says that Flynn and Freud could have a field day with this. I’m no psychiatrist, but I thought I would play around with these strawberry scenes myself.
I’ll start with the symbolism of a strawberry, the common terms you’ll hear in reference to a strawberry are: purity and sensuality, fertility and abundance, humility, modesty, love, happiness and success. This could easily be representing Ana. But I wonder at the fact that Christian is holding the strawberries. This early in the series, we don’t know that much about Christian’s background but I think if we look at who Christian really is, I think many of those terms also apply to him. He’s pure in that this is his first love, and the first woman he’s been with in that context. Christian also has an element of humility and modesty. Yes, he’s a rich man who knows how to buy people and things – but deep down, and stemming from his abandonment issues I think at his core he is a humble and modest person, who uses his money to cover up those things.
But of course these are strawberries from a dream, and in dreams, strawberries have a slightly different meaning. Sensual desires, temptation and if someone eats strawberries in a dream they will experience an erotic adventure. It’s interesting that Ana is at first tied up and can’t get to the strawberries that Christian is tempting her with, representing the element of herself that was holding her back from this relationship. But once she breaks free of those bindings, she eats the strawberries. Just as, in the story, once she stops holding back, she is able to have her erotic adventure and fulfill her sensual desires.
One could stop their analysis there, but I’m channeling Freud and Flynn and I don’t think they would stop there, so I won’t either.
In my readings something caught my eye, that in Christianity the strawberry is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. This caught my eye because the Virgin Mary comes up a couple times in the series – namely featured in Christian’s foyer in 16 Madonna and Child paintings. At the time I wrote my original post about the Madonna and Child paintings I wasn’t ready to fully absorb what they meant, though more and more I’m leaning towards Christian having it as his own private joke in regards to his biological mother.
But it didn’t take me long to stumble upon a connection of strawberries in the painting, Garden of Earthly Delights. An interesting element, since that is a painting I believe is linked with the code to garage at Escala. Apparently the strawberries in this painting aren’t insignificant, otherwise I wouldn’t find long detailed blog posts by art history bloggers on the topic. At the time Bosch painted this, strawberries were known for giving a short burst of pleasure, and then fading quickly. Or you wake up from your dream. This idea prompts the thought – while the erotic adventure is fun, it is short lived for Ana and Christian; they break up a very short time after the Thomas Tallis scene, which is the next evening. Ana get’s the strawberry, but at what price?
Perhaps the dream is a warning to Ana about the temptations of the strawberry – the offer of the erotic. And just as the short bit of intense erotic fun ends, it opens the door for the true romance between Ana and Christian. The one where they start in a bed without all the kinky fuckery and build a true meaningful relationship based on their love for each other, instead of the offer of the strawberries.