Character Perspective: Annie
The Hutchinson family hosts a holiday party for the fencing team members and their families. Coach Dan is warmly greeted by Annie’s parents. Her father, Carl, has just announced his candidacy for the state senate election in the spring. Her mother, Laura, asks for details about the team’s first official tournament, held the previous Saturday at the university. Inspired by Carl and Laura’s interest in the team, Coach Dan arranges for a series of short bouts in the Hutchinson’s vast dining room between Annie and each team member.
Annie faces Rex first, and recalls handing him a card for her family’s attorney last week, along with an offer for help with his battles with the Department of Family Services. She also recalls nominating Rex for the vacant team captain’s position in a conversation with Coach Dan. Her second bout is against Rune, and Annie recall playing with him at a gymnastics school, during which Rune finally takes up Annie’s suggestions and kisses her. Before her bout with The Bird, Annie recalls sitting next to her at a lunch table and getting her to laugh openly. And before facing Butch, she remembers a conversation during practice where Butch says he just wants to practice, and would actually prefer to never compete in a tournament.
When his turn to face Annie arrives, Double-J initially can’t be found. Annie eventually finds him outside the back of the kitchen, smoking with Jimmy, the caterer hired for the party. They’re soon joined by Coach Dan, whose interest is engaged when Jimmy fondly recalls having fenced during his prep school days in New Orleans. Annie recalls narrowly escaping injury a few weeks ago while riding in Double-J’s car as it careened wildly off a snowy country road, then walking down that road with him to get help.
When everyone returns to the dining room, Double-J formally refuses to face Annie, and the practice bouts end. Coach Dan then makes a surprise announcement – he’s decided the team does indeed need a captain. When he says he’s offered the position to Rex, Annie applauds enthusiastically, only to be stunned when Rex says he’s already declined the invitation, offering someone else’s name instead – Annie’s. Overwhelmed, Annie tearfully accepts the position. Only Double-J, the only team member who has openly campaigned for the position, is less than sincere in congratulating her.
Late that evening, Annie has a private conversation with her mother, who reveals that she plans to use her husband’s position as state senator to win political favors that will increase the Hutchinson’s already considerable wealth.