What is Practical

“But somewhere in the night I stretched out to her and kissed her until we were both sweating and crying with mixed bodies and swollen faces” (Winterson, 111-112).


Intimacy, the intimacy of two people whose love is not found for approval is being separated. Separated through exorcisms and repenting to a lord that is only shaped through different modifications in a devout Christian religion. “The night” is this representation of when only the love, eroticism, and intimacy can exist between that of Melanie and Jeanette. “The night” is where emotions can run rampant, a place where darkness is a part of life for existence. The sweating and perspiring from their bodies and the emotions that trigger water to trickle down their cheeks is not just the intimacy that they have for each other; it is the agony that has culminated between them. The love is something so sinful and shameful in their church that it dismantles the love that could continue to be between them. The love has the potential to still be there and always maintain a stasis between them, but it can never again be an overt being within their lives. Love has overtly eradicated their life as people – as “holy” people.

There “mixed bodies and swollen faces” is in a literal sense their bodies entwined with each other, “faces swollen” because of the pain that is soon yet to come as the sun rises. However their “mixed bodies and swollen faces” further represent the idea that their bodies are not linear beings to the community bodies around, although parallel to each other, they are incongruent to the bible. Their “swollen faces” are still the same however; they are representative of the emotion. Not just the emotion that is transparent between Melanie and Jeanette but their swollen faces represents the tribulation, the shame that they have had to take on because a part of themselves is so neglected from a community that prides themselves as being holistic to a god.

Pushing further, what is this to say about the novel itself? I am making the claim that in certain instances intimacy is sinful, something that can be profound. Intimacy is something that we long for, and we want to feel it, and bask in it. However every intimate relationship is compensated for practicality, for religion, for a perceived conception of what life should be. Although Melanie and Jeannette’s love is deviant it is also true. The falsity that exists around them wants to dismantle this not because it is between two women but because it is that of love. Practicality is the outline of this novel and love is what is trying to exist between the lines.