(113) In this context, it becomes a little more clear that oranges are representing either gender or heterosexuality.
By questioning why she can’t have other fruit, Jeanette puts into question the limitations that are imposed on her in terms of her choices and preferences.
(128) The desire to steer away from convention and normativity is a staple of this novel.
Just as Jeanette desires another fruit besides an orange, she also desires to be romantically involved with someone besides a man.
But, as Jeanette remarks: This was clearly not true.
At that point I had no notion of sexual politics, but I knew that a homosexual is further from a woman than a rhinoceros.(novel of development) centered on the life of Jeanette, a girl who is adopted and raised by a woman who happens to be a fundamentalist Christian.Jeanette’s mother believes in literal translations of the Bible, and she freely uses religious rhetoric to accommodate her black and white fashion of viewing the world.Much later on in the novel, when Jeanette gets slightly ill, her mother brings her a bowl of oranges, and the following scenario takes place: I took out the largest and tried to peel it.The skin hung stubborn, and soon I lay panting, angry and defeated. I did finally pull away the other shell, and, cupping both hands round, tore open the fruit.The entire spectrum of fruit, in this interpretive view, would go on to represent the entire spectrum of gender–the mother’s efforts to impose oranges as the only good fruit go on to represent efforts to approach a single gender or sexual orientation has valid and legitimate.As can be expected, the mother’s views toward fruit also apply towards her views on gender and sexuality: “I remembered the famous incident of the man who’d come to our church with his boyfriend. ‘Should have been a woman that one,’ my mother had remarked” (127).Jeanette’s penchant for non-normativity is even expressed in her artistic inclinations and projects.While Jeanette is in school, she truly strives to win a prize in the school’s various artistic competitions.(27) It is in this moment that Jeanette begins her process of development and maturation: it is the moment in which she realizes that her mother doesn’t have all of the right answers, and neither does the church.Thus, rather than resorting to donning the mother’s ideological perspective of the world, which consists of viewing things as either good or bad, Jeanette must learn to challenge herself to explore areas of contradiction and ambiguity that do not necessarily conform with the notions of right or wrong.