Analysis of Addie’s Jealousy

“I thought I told you about the girl sleeping with me whether I injoyed it or not. I can’t say that I injoyed it very much. I don’t care about her sleeping with me again. I don’t know what kind of excitement I refer to now. I presume I know at the time. I can’t recalled.”(186)

Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus’ relationship, analyzed in No Kisses Like Yours, points to a deeper understanding of female relationships in the 19th century. The two women, both African American living in Hartford, provide insight into their intimate relationship through their recovered letters. This quote comes from a point in the letters where Rebecca is telling Addie about a woman she met while teaching in the American south. She wrote about the women’s desire to have “bosom sex” with her, a sex act that Addie is familiar with. Rebecca shares a bed with this woman, indicated by her writing that this is where bosom sex is expected to occur. Addie responds jealously to this information causing Rebecca to respond with the above quote. She responds rather defensively to Addie’s jealousy and puts on an air of impartiality. She acts as if she can’t remember her own desire from the night she slept with the woman and reassures Addie that it was no big deal.

Their relationship is difficult to apply contemporary examples of queerness to as LGBTQ identities hold a very different place in our culture than in the 19th century. At the time, middle-class white women also enjoyed “romantic” friendships with other women- including kissing, terms of endearment, and bed-sharing. Addie and Rebecca’s relationship differentiates from white female relationships as they clearly display examples of eroticism in their letters. This quote explicitly points to their eroticism as Addie feels jealous after Rebecca expresses her interest in another woman and subsequently denies her excitement later.

“I can’t say that I injoyed it very much. I don’t care about her sleeping with me again. I don’t know what kind of excitement I refer to now.” In this line, Rebecca feigns amnesia and can’t seem to recall why she slept with the woman in the first place. She seems to have felt some excitement for the other woman at some point if she was willing to sleep with her and possibly encounter the sexual intimacy that comes from sharing a bed with Addie.

Through this retort to jealousy, we can understand Rebecca and Addie’s relationship as queer and sexual- with examples of them feeling both sexual attraction and jealousy. This quote, in particular, expresses their commitment to each other and solidifies that sleeping with another woman would imply sex acts that Addie and Rebecca frequently experienced.

3 thoughts on “Analysis of Addie’s Jealousy”

  1. This was a very thorough analysis of No Kiss is Like Yours and the dynamic relationship between Addie and Rebecca. In another attempt to answer the so what question maybe you can consider the question why these letters are so revolutionizing. Not only did it offer a unique perspective of an amorous friendship between two women around the 1860’s but also take into account their race. As people of color, especially Rebecca as a person with status and wealth, their friendly relationship is distinctive. Why? Distinctive because displaying affection (even if they were through writing) was uncommon for people of the same gender, nevertheless minorities. With society seemingly working against them by oppression of race, gender, and possibly sexuality can be an interesting viewpoint to address.

  2. The jealously and power dynamics between Addie and Rebecca compelled me as well. It is clear that Addie is striving to seek out a jealous reaction by mentioning the other girl who slept with her; As Rebecca has a higher status than Addie (and therefore, does not need to depend on Addie as much as Addie depends on her), this is one of the ways in which Addie attempts to gain power in the relationship. It is not a possibility for Addie to marry Rebecca and combine their wealth. Instead, in this instance and throughout the piece, she seeks to stoke Rebecca’s jealousy and insecurity. These instances provide insight into how class differences affected queer relationships.

  3. Your initial question or interest in the jealousy present in Addie and Rebecca’s relationship is unique and thought-provoking. When I read their notes, I thought of the classic themes of love and sex within romance. Of course, those are not the only aspects of a relationship, which makes your close reading all the more interesting. Mentioning the historical context and difference between white women and these black women who wrote the notes was important. As for current examples of this type of relationship, you were right to say that there is no comparable ones from the current time and their time. Do you think it is wrong to try to find examples that relate, or would they be automatically incomparable due to the difference in societal norms?

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