mostly different, but some similarities

There are, of course, two different approaches in comparing theses texts; mostly similar with some differences, or mostly different with some similarities. At first I thought these two novels were obviously very different, the main issue being that Boy meets Boy was about the sexual orientation of the protagonist, and Luna is about gender identity, two very different things, thus making it difficult to compare their experiences. The stories differ further in that Paul is already ‘out’ to all his friends and family and it’s not really a coming out narrative for Paul, whereas Luna is in nearly the exact opposite situation.  For a while during the free write i couldn’t get past the fact that i couldn’t find nearly any substantial similarities between Paul and Luna, so i moved on to thinking about comparing the stories in other ways.

Though it wasn’t quite as present in the plot of Boy meets Boy, Tony’s parents don’t understand or approve of who he is, similarly to the way Liam and Reagan’s dad can’t grasp what is going on with Liam, though each character deals with their parents in different ways, the concept is still there. Another similarity I think is noteworthy, is the parallel between Reagan and Paul as the narrators. Though Reagan is a young, straight girl and Paul is a gay boy, they are both comfortable and confident in their sexualities. In both stories, the narrators are both pursuing someone and there is drama surrounding that, but more importantly, each narrator is helping people close to them with their coming out process.

I also see similarities in the relationship between Reagan and Liam, and Paul and Tony; Reagan is what Liam wants to be- a girl. Similarly, Tony is jealous of Paul’s life in which he gets to live as himself and have his boyfriends over to his house. Paul and Reagan both have something that Tony and Liam desire, and Paul and Reagan are helping them to achieve it.

Belize is to Roy as Elsie is to Jeanette

In the latter half of Scene 1, Act Four, when Roy is emoted by Joe’s news of living with another man, Belize enters the scene at just the right moment to receive Roy’s bleeding arm and enraged state. Belize is able to take control of the erratic situation, and bandage Roy’s arm. His presence in this scene is crucial for Joe because he not only saves Joe from Roy’s wrath, but also urges him to change his shirt and not to touch the blood- something Joe would not have known to do otherwise. This particular instance enforces Belize as the more ‘omniscient’, and ‘voice of reason’ character.

Belize’s somewhat protective, somewhat informative role in Roy’s fragile life, is similar to Elsie Norris’s role in young Jeanette’s life in Oranges. Though Belize and Roy are not good friends as Elsie and Jeanette were, he is quite literally, Roy’s caretaker, as Elsie becomes Jeanette’s ‘surrogate mother’. Elsie and Belize both become reliable sources of safety for Jeanette and Roy. Elsie Norris, as an experienced and well traveled person, represents life outside the church that Jeanette has not yet experienced. In a similar way, Belize represents gay culture, and living as an openly gay man, as Roy has never experienced. Another similarity between Belize and Elsie is their innate good nature, despite factors that have lead other characters to turn against Roy and Jeanette. Even though Roy is relentlessly rude, racist and berating to Belize, Belize is equally calm and caring to Roy, as we assume he’d be to any other patient. When everyone Jeanette knows turns against her for being gay, Elsie remains Jeanette’s friend, regardless of her strong religious views. Each of these characters represent humanity and morality in two stories that are ridden with cruelty and inhumanity.

“What do you do if you marry a beast?”

“There were  a lot of women, and most of them got married.  If they couldn’t marry each other, and I didn’t think they could, because of having babies, some of them would inevitably have to marry beasts.” 

This is not the first time Jeanette worries about her perceived impending marriage to a man. Having the foreknowledge that this is a coming out narrative, and that Jeanette will not be marrying a man, it creates a very recognizable instance of dramatic irony for the reader.  She only gives the idea of women marrying women a brief thought, “…if they couldn’t marry each other, and i didn’t think they could, because of having babies…”.  This bit of ‘logic’  illuminates the way her mother and the church have curbed her thinking; first, she assumed that women couldn’t marry each other, even if they wanted to, they couldn’t.  This line also perpetuates the Christian ideology that marriage is for the functional purpose of procreation.  

Furthermore, the way in which Jeanette glides over this possibility in her train of thought, is indicative of how ingrained this way of thinking is in her, as well as the finality of the church’s ideologies.  She goes on to wonder “If only there was some way of telling, then we could operate a ration system.”  This line, in concert with the aforementioned line, really demonstrate that Jeanette has been conditioned to perceive marriage as functional, as a mere pairing of two people for its own sake, rather than something done out of love.  

This small passage is so revealing of the type of thinking that has been instilled in Jeanette’s mind, totally unbeknownst to her. As a reader who is aware of the events to come, this seemingly innocent train of thought makes me very sad for Jeanette and also very frustrated towards her upbringing for implanting these ideologies that are contradictory to who she innately is.

“Your small hands, precisely equal to my own-“

“your small hands precisely equal to my own- only the thumb is larger, longer- in these hands/ I could trust the world, or in many hands like these/…” 

When I read this, I immediately assumed she was speaking to a another woman, possibly a lover, but initially a specific person rather than addressing women in general. She then transitions into referencing women as a whole when she says “… or in many hands like these…”.  Rich then goes on to talk about “…hands like these,/ handling power-tools, or steering-wheel…” physical labor oriented tasks that would be typically attributed to men;  but Rich asserts that she ‘could trust’ these jobs in the hands of women.  I feel here that she is not only saying that women can do the same jobs as men, but on a grander scale, that women are equal to men, and are equally capable to “…pilot the exporters rescue-ship/ through icebergs, or piece together/ the fine, needle-like herds of a great krater-cup/…” 

Towards the end of the stanza, Rich references “… figures of ecstatic women striding/ to the sibyl’s den or the Eleusinian cave-“ Both of these are allusions to important and powerful females in ancient Greece and Greek mythology.  A Sibyl was a woman through which deities would communicate oracles and prophecies.  An Eleusinian Cave was a secret ceremonial site in ancient Greece, at which rituals were performed in honor of the Goddess Demeter, and her daughter Persephone.  I believe Rich added this reference because Demeter is the goddess of fertility.