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Orange is the New Black: Sorting Piper Chapman into Slytherin

Updated on July 31, 2016

Piper Chapman is in Slytherin.

Timid and out of place when we first meet her in Season 1, Piper Chapman is a Slytherin - ambitiously self-serving and adaptable. She quickly adapts to her new surroundings at Litchfield Penitentiary, and avoids sticky situations - like when she must repent a negative remark about the prison food to Red. Through her ambition, she develops an underground "panty business" and makes her mark in Litchfield.

From her first strip search to her breakup with Larry to her secret underpants business, Piper - true to a Slytherin - cares about “me and mine.” When Brook Soso arrives at Litchfield - like Piper when she first arrived, new and out of place - Piper chooses to convince Soso to become Big Boo’s “prison wife” in exchange for a crocheted blanket, demonstrating a clear value of self interest over what is right. Even more telling, when her on-and-off-ex-girlfriend, recently released Alex Vause leaks that she is planning to skip town in fear of her own safety, Piper tells Alex’s parole officer, intentionally landing her back in prison to attend to Piper’s emotional wounds after her ex-fiance and best friend hook up. Piper cares for Alex’s value to her more than she values Alex’s freedom.

Piper learns to survive and thrive in prison, and finds ways to zip and zag through the social and administrative hierarchy of Litchfield. Piper’s underpants business in Season 3 is a prime example. She disregards rules and dignity to build and operate an illegal business, selling used underwear to men outside the prison walls. Piper uses her brother and a young, impressionable prison guard as transport, and employs several fellow inmates as underpants wearers in exchange for ramen. The underpants business illustrates Piper’s willingness to sacrifice personal dignity and intrapersonal connections at a whim for the personal ambition. She is willing to give her secret courier - the prison guard - a handjob for his continued services - and almost does before Stella saves her. After a touching conversation with pregnant Dayanara Diaz, Piper tries to employ Daya as an underpants wearer - because underpants worn by pregnant women are worth more. Piper’s versatility - her ability to adapt to her new environment and embody the persona she believes it demands. While Piper initially shows grace - sensitively dodging Crazy Eyes’s attempts to be her “prison wife” - by the end of Season 3, we see her ruthless and unforgiving side. Piper pretends to be forgiving when Stella admits to stealing her money, but then sabotages Stella’s release and gets to sent to maximum security. As guards rummage through Stella’s bunk discovering all of the contraband Piper has planted, Piper walks away.

“I don’t fuck around,” she says. “Let the people know.”

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