Writing, Identity, & Queer Studies

In & Out, Either/Or, and Everything In Between

A Contradictory Revelation

“The reason Miss Ramchandin paid me no attention was that, to her mind, the outfit was not something to either congratulate or scorn – it simply was.”

Tyler is weary from the lack of response from Miss Ramchandin after his cautious reveal of his wearing the dress that Miss Ramchandin stole for him. After momentary shame and regret, Tyler experiences a revelation as seen in the quote above. Tyler is finally dressing the way he wishes too and feels like himself in his truest form, and Miss Ramchandin recognizes this.

The act of Tyler putting on the dress to reveal to Miss Ramchandin is an act of confession because he is seeking her validation. As we have read in Foucault’sĀ The History of Sexuality, “…one does not confess without the presence (or virtual presence) of a partner who is not simply the interlocutor but the authority who requires the confession, prescribes and appreciates it, and intervenes in order to judge, punish, forgive, console and reconcile…” in other words, one confesses to either be praised or punished by a figure of authority. This is contradictory in Tyler’s case because Miss Ramchandin is not the figure of authority, he is. Yet he is still seeking her validation. Tyler then goes onto say that “she was not one to manacle nature, and I sensed that she was permitting mine its freedom.” This statement is contradicting Tyler’s revelation because he has just realized that no confession was needed for him to be granted his freedom and be accepted as who he feels he is, but he is still taking note of what Miss Ramchandin may feel about him.

FoucaultĀ also states, “the sexual act- and how it was done; but of reconstructing, in and around the act, the thoughts that recapitulated it, the obsessions that accompanied it, the images, desires, modulations, and quality of the pleasure that animated it. For the first time no doubt, a society has taken upon itself to solicit and hear the imparting of individual pleasures. Here Foucault is saying that people have begun to insert themselves into other people’s sexual lives wanting to know everything about what they do for the purpose of critique. To contradict this idea is Miss Ramchandins lack of response to Tyler wearing the dress. Miss Ramchandin, already a woman of few words, does not critique or pass judgment. She has the ability to see Tyler as he truly is, not what he wants to be, which is what others may see. There is no praise or punishment in this confession, it just is.

2 Comments

  1. I found this phrase interesting as well in how simply it expressed acceptance and how frustrated Tyler is without a reaction–either positive or negative. Your connection to Foucault reminds me as well of the need for validation that Tyler seeks. He has confessed to Miss Ramchandin and has been conditioned to think that this confession will receive some type of reaction even when, in Miss Ramchandin’s mind, it doesn’t merit a fuss.

  2. paintstarsincolor

    November 19, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    I find the dynamic between Tyler and Mala Ramchandin completely fascinating. The bond that they form is unlike any other the I’ve ever encountered, both literary and in real life. Their form of communication is subtle, reminding me of human interactions with their beloved animal companions. Both are unable to verbal communicate on the same wave-length but understand each other none-the-less. I think that what connects Tyler and Mala is their tie to queerness but what keeps them together is the lack of judgement from one another. This, I suppose, mutual respect for each other is what elicits such a powerful response from readers. They have no interest in changing one another, completely polar to societal expectations and norms (i.e. what Foucault imagines). I think that their friendship is something everyone should to aspire to have in their lives.

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