“Once upon a time there was a beautiful and brilliant princess, so sensitive that the death of a moth could distress her for weeks…” (Pg. 9)
In the readings thus far, one passage that has stuck out to me has been the parable of the sensitive princess. In chapter 1, Genesis, Jeannette tells the story of an incredibly compassionate princess who is, for the most part, tethered to her kingdom and becomes distressed by something as simple as the death of a moth. For this reason, her whole kingdom worries for her until one day she finds an old hunchback woman who is dying. The hunchback women asks her to take care of a certain list of duties and the Princess obliges. When the hunchback woman dies, the princess abides by her promise and is never bothered by her excessive sensitivity again.
This is a story that I felt accurately paralleled the childhood of Jeanette. In my interpretation, the princess is a perfect representation of innocence. As a youth, Jeanette mirrors this innocence in her ignorance of her own sexual orientation. Living a life skewed and sheltered by her mother’s extreme religiosity, Jeanette know’s nothing but what is considered right by the church. In the same way that the princess is restricted by her self-imposed fear, Jeanette is limited by her mother’s overbearing and manipulative. Although she is ultimately able to break free from the major restrictions set by her mother and church later in life, until her freedom Jeanette exemplifies innocence in a life manipulated by her mother and religion. Another, more literal, parallel exists in the distress that the princess feels. Though not to the extent of the anxious princess, Jeanette’s internal conflict of natural instinct versus her mother’s will leads to her living a very confusing and stressful childhood. Lastly, and perhaps most important the way that the princess is able to alleviate her distress is paralleled by an unsuccessful attempt of coping by Jeanette. Unlike the princess, who successfully escapes her restrictions through finding where she belongs, Jeannette seeks to find where she belongs through accepting the manipulation by her mother. Thus, Jeanette attempts to overcome her limits by accepting the cause of them.