The novel Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown, was published in 1973 and focuses on a lesbian protagonist. This is Molly Bolt, who is followed from sixth grade into her post-college life. Molly begins the novel living in rural Pennsylvania with her supportive stepfather, Carl, and her critical stepmother, Carrie. Growing up, Molly has a tenuous relationship with Carrie, as Molly continuously lives her life in a manner in exact opposition to her stepmother’s beliefs. Throughout the novel, Molly grows both in age and ideas. She begins discovering her feelings for women in the sixth grade, when she has a romantic and sexual relationship with Leota Bisland. This occurs before Molly’s family moves to Florida with her parents and cousin Leroy’s family. In Florida, Molly starts a relationship with a high-school classmate named Carolyn that further escalates her stance against marriage. After high school, Molly works to put herself through film school at New York University, where she has multiple relationships with women. Like Rubyfruit Jungle, many midto late-twentieth century novels include lesbian protagonists who do not value marriage. This can be seen in novels such as Odd Girl Out by Ann Bannon and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. These books were written in 1953 and 1985 respectively, and they also depict lesbians rejecting the societal expectation of marriage. Odd Girl Out, as well as other lesbian pulp novels, helped to set a precedent for novels with lesbian themes: furthermore, that novel includes a lesbian protagonist with a negative view of marriage. Likewise, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit relates back to Brown’s work by also depicting a lesbian protagonist who negatively views marriage.
Resisting Marriage: Using Rubyfruit Jungle to Analyze a Lesbian’s View on Societal Norms.
Undergraduate Review, 14, 87-94.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol14/iss1/15
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