Roy and Jeannette and the Power of Creation

Roy in “Angels in America” is similar to Jeannette in “Oranges are Not the Only Fruit” because they both claim to make their own “laws.” In “Angels in America,” Roy states, “Lawyers are…the High Priests of America. We alone know the words that made America. Out of thin air. We alone know how to use The Words.” Roy points out the significance of lawyers to Belize in order to highlight the fact that throughout his own life, he has used his position of power to create his own laws and truths. From his position of power, he was able to persuade the judge to convict and execute Ethel. He was also able to use his power to hide the fact that he was a homosexual and use that power to get whatever it is that he wanted whether it be pills to help his fight against AIDS or to have his lovers introduced to the President at a time when homosexuals were marginalized. As a High Priest, he created his own narrative and influenced the lives of others.

This is similar to Jeanette’s experience as she considers herself to be a prophet, able to create her own meaning from certain texts. She was able to break from her mother’s reality and teachings that homosexuality was a sin. She often used dream sequences and storytelling to create her own version of good, regardless of what the Church said. In the book, Jeannette does not see anything wrong with her love and affection for Melanie. In fact, she sees her love for Melanie and both of their love for God as fitting neatly together in harmony. She states, “I love you almost as much as I love the Lord.” By claiming this, she puts her love for Melanie on the same playing field as her love for the Lord, rejecting the Church’s notion that her love is a sin. Her affection for Melanie stems from the fact that Melanie has joined her religious community, a community in which Jeannette has used as a guide throughout her life.

Another part where Jeannette creates her own reality is when she and Melanie embrace each other and she wonders out loud whether this is an “Unnatural Passion” to which Melanie states, “Doesn’t feel like it. According to Pastor Finch, that’s awful.” Jeannette accepts this as truth, thus affirming her belief that her love for Melanie is not sinful like the Church says but rather wholesome and comparable to the love of the Lord.

The difference in this similarity is that Roy used his power to create in order to hide who he was and to harm others. The fact that he hid who he was is made clear in the book when he loudly asserts that he is not a homosexual, but a man who has sex with other men. He creates his own reality and denies his homosexuality based on the belief that homosexuals are feared and treated as second class citizens while he is an influential powerbroker who gets his way. Roy uses his power to create in order to hide himself from the world. In a world that oppresses him, instead of embracing himself for who he is he shoves it aside in order to stay powerful.

Jeanette on the other hand uses her power to create in order to accept who she is. Unlike Roy, she uses the Bible to reinforce her own life, not shun it. By comparing her love for Melanie to the love of the Lord, she legitimizes herself in a time when the Church and the rest of the world oppress her. Another differences is that as Jeannette considers herself to be a Prophet, she recognizes that others will reject her teachings and her ways. Roy, however, uses his ability to create his own laws and narrative in order to have others see and believe his heterosexuality. It is precisely because of society’s belief, though, that gives him his power.

2 thoughts on “Roy and Jeannette and the Power of Creation”

  1. Hi James,
    This is a really solid analysis of the power that both Roy and Jeanette have, even though they both are weakened by otherworldly powers – for Roy, it is the AIDS epidemic, and for Jeanette, it is the oppression of her mother. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that despite the seeming power that both Roy and Jeanette do have in their endeavors, they both are hampered by these forces that do end up having long-lasting consequences on their lives.

  2. I enjoyed your analysis on this sense of power held by the respective protagonist in both Oranges are not the Only Fruit and Angels in America. Though the “power” that Roy holds, or believes he holds, is well established in the novel, I never really considered the concept of power as it pertained to Jeanette. Because Jeanette is a character that I viewed primarily as a victim, due to the abuse she is subjected to, the power she holds is much more subtle. By highlighting the situational differences that each of these characters is placed in, you helped me see the understated, yet equally important, power expressed by Jeanette.

Comments are closed.