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Jana Evans Braziel, Assistant Professor
229B Mc Micken Hall
Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of Cincinnati
ML 210069
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0069
Office # (513) 556-0834
Fax # (513) 556-5960

Comparative Literature
Spiritual Autobiography

Fall 1997

Discussion Questions / Topics for Journal Entries

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

What role have Jeanette and her mother played in the church? What is Jeanette's special spiritual gift (14)? After her lesbianism is discovered, how is Jeanette treated by the leaders of the church? How is she censored by the church (133-34)? What is the biblical justification for this censorship? Why does Jeanette find this realization ironic? Why is Jeanette surprised by her mother's complicity in this prohibition of preaching for women?

Analyzing the following scenes, isolate the theological grounds of Winterson's critique of church dogma: the scene where Melanie and Jeanette are brought before the church (105); the scene that narrates Elsie's funeral (156-58); and the scene where Jeanette addresses her own "sexual politics" as opposed to those of the church (127-28). Compare Winterson's statement regarding the "Father and Son" on page 89. What is significant theologically about this statement?

How does Winterson define her mother's Moral Code through such loaded terms as "Enemies," "Unnatural Passions," and "Breeding Grounds" in the first chapter of the book, "Genesis"? Why are these words capitalized? What does this seem to assert? Attempt to define each. How does Winterson develop the growing tension between her mother's Moral Code and her own through the term "Unnatural Passions" (7, 16, 89)? Analyze the significance of Jeanette's relationship with Melanie (88-89), Miss Jewsbury (106) and Katy (123-24): how does each woman impact her identity as a lesbian? how do the three relationships differ?

Analyze the significance of Chapter 5, "Deuteronomy." Why does Winterson refer to this chapter as "the last book of the Law"? How is the finality of the Law evident in the Chapter? What does Winterson imply about language, truth, fiction and reality in this passage? Use specific examples. What does Winterson say about "storytelling" (93)? What is the symbolic significance of the "string full of knots" and the "catís cradle" (93)? What do the images symbolize with regard to language? What does she say about historians, the past and memory (94-95)? What does Winterson suggest about order and chaos (95)? Why is this important?

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