Sex and Rage Summary & Study Guide

Babitz, Eve
This Study Guide consists of approximately 62 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sex and Rage.
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Sex and Rage Summary & Study Guide Description

Sex and Rage Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Sex and Rage by Babitz, Eve.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Babitz. Eve. Sex & Rage. Counterpoint, 2017.

Jacaranda Leven is born in Los Angeles, near the sea. She spends her whole childhood surfing. In the 1960s, she meets Colman, an acting instructor, and is his mistress for five years. At the same time, she is paid to be a band groupie and starts painting surfboards for money. On a trip to Oahu, Jacaranda starts dating one of Colman’s students, Gilbert. Gilbert introduces her to Max, a flamboyant, sexually-ambiguous man who infatuates Jacaranda for the next several years. Max throws lavish dinner parties for the “dear friends” on the “barge,” or, in laymen’s terms, wealthy people who only associate with others in the high-rolling set. One of these party guests, Etienne, may or may not fund Max’s lifestyle. Jacaranda is not interested in Etienne, but regularly sleeps with him anyway. At first, Max and Jacaranda get along well, but Max soon tires of Jacaranda and starts treating her cruelly. Even though she is an accepted member of the “dear friends,” Jacaranda knows most of the girls used for entertainment by them are dead before they turn 30. Max is also behaving more and more crueler to Jacaranda, offering mean-spirited comments about most of the things she does.

Although she starts out as a painter, Jacaranda begins writing and quickly achieves success. She has several pieces published in magazines, and soon contacts a literary agent, Janet Wilton. She also reunites with her high school boyfriend, another surfer named Shelby. At the same time as her literary career is taking off, Jacaranda recognizes that she is becoming an alcoholic. She also cannot commit to the book that Janet wants her to write, so, she starts picking fights with Shelby to garner sympathy from Janet. Eventually, though, after persistence from Janet, Jacaranda pulls together a book and sends it off. Her problems are not over, though, because now Janet wants her to go to New York. Jacaranda is terrified to go to New York for fear that she will not be taken seriously and will run into Max.

Shelby tells Jacaranda she should go to New York, and because of his frankness, Jacaranda wants to seek her revenge on him. She invites Sunrise and her boyfriend Zack to the party that Sunrise's ex-boyfriend, Jack, is throwing. Shelby likes to have an enjoyable time, she knows, so she thinks Sunrise will ruin the party that Shelby is hosting with Jack. However, Jack never sees Sunrise at the party, and nothing dramatic happens, aside from the fact that abusive Zack punches Sunrise for dancing. Afterward, a guilty Jacaranda takes Sunrise on a trip, during which she convinces Sunrise to leave her abusive boyfriend. Sunrise convinces Jacaranda to go to New York. Before she prepares to leave for New York, Jacaranda cannot find Shelby, and she worries that Shelby no longer loves her. She also gives up drinking.

In New York, Jacaranda meets her literary agent, Janet, properly and her editor, Wallace, for the first time. She stays with another California friend, Winifred, who has rented a suite for the two of them. Jacaranda likes New York more than she would expect, and especially likes Janet and Wallace. After days of meeting editors and editing her forthcoming book, Jacaranda sees that her old boyfriend, Gilbert, is on the cover of People magazine. He has become a movie star. Jacaranda is cheered because she has not had a drink for several days and has made contact again with Shelby, who says he still loves her. That night, Janet tells Jacaranda that she ran into Max at a party. Jacaranda asks Janet to relay a message to Max. Winifred tells her that Max is sure to call because of that message.

Sure enough, Jacaranda and Wini receive a call at two in the morning. It is Gilbert, who wants to meet up with Jacaranda right away, before he leaves for Paris. Jacaranda agrees to meet up with Gilbert, and she and Winifred go to the Plaza hotel where he is staying. When they get to his room, they see that Max is there, too. Soon after, Etienne also arrives. Things are strained between Max and Jacaranda, mostly because Jacaranda is no longer drinking and has found success. Etienne quickly woos Winifred, and they leave together. Max leaves not long after. Gilbert and Jacaranda stay up all night doing drugs and discussing the lifestyle of the “dear friends.” Jacaranda learns that Max has given up throwing dinner parties.

On her last day in New York, Jacaranda says goodbye to Winifred and visits her elderly godmother, Sonia. Sonia has just recently moved to New York from California, but Jacaranda discovers she is still spry and interested in the world at the age of 90. After her meeting with Sonia, Jacaranda boards the plane for California. She looks forward to seeing Shelby and returning to surfing when she arrives.

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