Manual Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit has ratings and reviews. lori said: favorite excerpts: I miss God. I miss the company of someone utterly l.
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She seems to have had a colourful past herself, and keeps warning Jeanette to stay out of trouble. Poor kid has no friends, but when she finds a kindred soul, who happens to be a pretty girl, they become very close and it turns out to be her first real crush. The feeling is mutual, but Jeanette is careful. By this time, she's aware the kids are pairing off boy-girl, but she doesn't care for the boys and an old woman has read her palm and announced she will never marry - never sit still.

When she goes as usual to collect her comic from a paper shop run by two older, unmarried women, they invite her to go with them to the seaside. But Mother immediately cancels the comic subscription and forbids Jeanette from returning with no explanation. She said they dealt in unnatural passions. I thought she meant they put chemicals in their sweets. Meanwhile, she throws herself into the evangelical life, and a dreary one it must be.

She prays and preaches and sings carols and hands out religious tracts.

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As she gets older, she bumps up against all kinds of criticism. Her needlework teacher is horrified at her sampler all in black and white with a picture of the damned in the corner. My needlework teacher suffered from a problem of vision. She recognised things according to expectation and environment. If you were in a particular place, you expected to see particular things.

Sheep and hills, sea and fish; if there was an elephant in the supermarket, she'd either not see it at all, or call it Mrs Jones and talk about fishcakes. But most likely, she'd do what most people do when confronted with something they don't understand: What constitutes a problem is not the thing, or the environment where we find the thing, but the conjunction of the two; something unexpected in a usual place our favourite aunt in our favourite poker parlour or something usual in an unexpected place our favourite poker in our favourite aunt.

She describes the church deciding to cleanse her, save her through exorcism, and all sorts of strange goings-on. This seems to have led to dreams or hallucinations incorporating King Arthur and other mythology which added nothing to the story for me but might for a more discerning student of the book. I suspect these are the hoopoos referred to in the book. View all 13 comments. If that's true, I'm in for a truly superlative treat, because I loved this book to the bones. I want to read it again and again to savour its sweet delights.

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Compulsory Heterosexuality in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit | The Feminist Library

Maybe Laura Doan's essay 'Sexing the Postmodern' , about Winterson's work and theme development over this and two subsequent novels The Passion and Sexing the Cherry gave me a hunger to read this that made it taste so good 'hunger I've heard that her more recent take on the same material Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal is even better. Maybe Laura Doan's essay 'Sexing the Postmodern' , about Winterson's work and theme development over this and two subsequent novels The Passion and Sexing the Cherry gave me a hunger to read this that made it taste so good 'hunger is the best sauce'.

Maybe I felt along with Jeanette so keenly because working-class northern-ness and being in trouble for being queer and weird are familiar territory. Maybe because I grew up around Christianity from a position of looking on in mixed horror, contempt, admiration and amusement I was primed to laugh at all the jokes. Being working class, living in scarcity, means sharing space, often uncomfortably. Jeanette and her father go outside to the bathroom for respite. The Sally Army banish Jeanette's inept tambourinists from their shared concert. Death meets ice cream.

There is a combination of elastic lightness and looseness of expression that makes for tiggerish bounding jollity, a feast of poetic allusions to lesbian love, and archly spoken cycles through remade mythology and fairytale. I don't feel this as bildungsroman ; Jeanette travels around in her life as in a tableau vivant rather than being changed by or absorbing the world. Revelatory moments and drastic, transformative events seem carved in niches.

Jeanette passes them, points them out, sails on. Without this distancing and the comic tone to leaven, it would probably be an unbearable story. It evades the snares of a heterosexist culture and its language by turning them aside: Perhaps the event has an unassailable truth.

But I am not God. And so when someone tells me what they heard or saw, I believe them, and I believe their friend who also saw, but not in the same way, and I can put these accounts together and I will not have a seamless wonder but a sandwich laced with mustard of my own View all 11 comments. Oranges is a comforting novel. Its heroine is someone on the outside of life. Everyone, at some time in their life, must choose whether to stay with a ready-made world that may be safe but which is also limiting, or to push forward, often past the frontiers of commonsense, into a personal place, unknown and untried.

Winterson writes in her introduction to Oranges , and in this s Oranges is a comforting novel. Winterson writes in her introduction to Oranges , and in this semi-autobiographical novel, that's the clincher. Before Jeanette Winterson became one of the better known names in lesbian literature, she was a devout Christian, being groomed for missionary work by her deeply religious and very obviously Christian zealot of a mother. Before Winterson graduated from Oxford and began to teach writing at the University of Manchester, she was practically illiterate - home-schooled by her mother, and her education, limited to religious texts.

Winterson writes her own story as a novel, as fiction, because, as she says, fiction is easier to accept than fact.

From the SparkNotes Blog

And also, for whatever reason, fiction has a greater outreach, or so I believe. Fiction needs its specifics, its anchors. It needs also to pass beyond them. It needs to be weighed down with characters we can touch and know, it needs also to fly right through them into a larger, universal space. The chapters in the book are divided as chapters are in the Old Testament; from Genesis to Ruth.

In Genesis , as the Biblical Genesis talks about the Origin, or history of mankind, Winterson talks about the story of her origins and her history, her background - her adoption, her daily routine that came to be, and her involvement in the church. She talks about how she was groomed to be a missionary, and how that was the only life she knew. For her second chapter, which she calls Exodus after the Book of Exodus, Jeanette's mother is forced into putting Jeanette into a school - literally, a movement from homeschooling to regular schooling.


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In the Book of Leviticus, the essence is mostly preaching - it is about rituals and morality, and about staying true to Christian principles. In Oranges , Leviticus plays quite the same role as in the Bible. In that, Jeanette's mother preaches about morality and religion and righteousness, while Jeanette talks about her mother's role in Church.

Her mother also gives Jeanette instructions, advice on what she needs to do to fulfill her destiny as a missionary. One of the defining features of Numbers is the loss of faith in god by men, and their subsequent smiting. In Numbers, in a way, Jeanette perhaps starts losing faith in god. But more importantly, she loses faith in her mother for having lied to her. Just like the Israelis start doubting god for putting them through the tests that he did, subconsciously, Jeanette begins decoupling from the oppressive Bible herself, and for her, it starts by falling in love.

A large part of the Biblical Deuteronomy deals with the journey aspect of Moses's journey and the Promised Land. In Oranges , Winterson focuses on the act of travel and how it relates to the larger picture. About how it enhances curiosity and discovery. Winterson also talks about another kind of promised land; about discovery of new lands, and about those lost cities that inspire stories, cities like El Dorado and Atlantis. In Joshua , Jeanette is exorcised for her "Unnatural Passions", and in Judges , her mother forces her to move out. The former perhaps has links to God instructing Joshua as it correlates to her demons instructing her, while the latter seems to draw from Israelis being oppressed by their kings, their judges; just like Jeanette is oppressed by her mother.

In Judges, Israel is left to fend for itself after the events of the book, just like Jeanette is left to fend for herself after moving out. Ruth ultimately seems like a fitting end to this treatise because its eponymous book in the Old Testament remains among the most progressive of the Biblical books. Oranges is a heartbreaking, yet hopeful story of a young girl who discovers that she is more than the oppressive, fanatically religious household she grew up in. Jeanette is severely oppressed by her fanatically religious mother and their equally fanatical community.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit English Project

A community that shuns people for having sex on a Sunday. A community that has taken upon itself to convert anyone who isn't a Christian. A community full of missionaries. She had never heard of mixed feelings.

There were friends and there were enemies. Jeanette's mother is a strong character, both in terms of her role in the book, and in Jeanette's life. Just, it's not a positive kind of strong. She's domineering and opinionated - while also being willfully judgemental and ignorant. She judged the poor for being too poor, and the rich for being too rich. Since so many people we knew went there, it was hardly fair of her but she never was particularly fair; she loved and she hated, and she hated Maxi Ball.

Her next door neighbours for having too much sex, and two random women because she suspected rightly that they were lesbians. She was just another religious fanatic waiting for the end of the world while forcing her views on everyone else. Her singular aim in life? That Jeanette become a missionary. Her husband was an easy-going man, but I knew it depressed him.

Since I was born I had assumed that the world ran on very simple lines, like a larger version of our church. Now I was finding that even the church was sometimes confused. This was a problem. Jeanette's mother was, of course, a creationist. Her homeschooling of her daughter resulted in her daughter being woefully backward in class. Her religious views, in her daughter terrifying the living daylights of her classmates. Jeanette's essays were inspired by Hell and other Biblical phenomena, as were her projects. I felt terrible for her, because her mother's lifestyle, so to speak, made her not only friendless, but also the butt of all jokes in school.

Over the years I did my best to win a prize; some wish to better the world and still scorn it. Jeanette's mother's faith or fanaticism went to the extent that she refused to admit her daughter to the hospital when she fell sick. And had to be persuaded by that, I mean someone else got Jeanette admitted to do so. In the hospital, as at home, Jeanette was given oranges to keep her energy up. Because oranges are the only fruit. Her friend Elise, old, eccentric, and surprisingly more open minded than Jeanette's mother kept her company.

Elise was lovable, despite all. Elsie got very cross. Once a thing was created, it was valid for all time. Its value went not up nor down. Jeanette finds solace in books, and one day, quite by accident, as it always does, falls in love. Of course, it doesn't sit well with the community, and she's exorcised before being kicked out for her 'sins'. She does odd jobs to support herself. She moves to a nearby city, but the questions plague her. Jeanette accepts herself for who she is, but doesn't renounce her faith, in that, she starts believing in a more abstract idea of god.

Which, I'm agnostic, so I don't care, but it must have been a real task to reconcile that gap between who she was, who she is, and who she would become. I could have been a priest instead of a prophet. The priest has a book with the words set out. Old words, known words, words of power. Words that are always on the surface. Words for every occasion. The prophet has no book.

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The prophet is a voice that cries in the wilderness, full of sounds that do not always set into meaning. The prophets cry out because they are troubled by demons.

Oranges may seem very simple at its outset, but it has to it layers. The subtle Biblical references interspersed with the more obvious ones. The degrees to all the characters. Granted, they're based from facts, but the nuances, the layers to what is a very simple story, make this book spectacular. Oranges is comforting not because it offers any easy answers but because it tackles difficult questions.

Once you can talk about what troubles you, you are some way towards handling it.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

View all 12 comments. This story is about a young lesbian girl, trying to navigate her way through a family, a background, and an era that refuses to recognize her, refuses to recognize her sexual identity and accept her as she is. Adopted, raised in a strict, religious household by a mother who was severe and domineering, this novel is partly autobiographical. This is a damn good book, first class story telling that you wouldn't expect to find in a first novel.

Dec 07, Ariana rated it did not like it. I found this book completely baffling from beginning to end. I couldn't tell if it was because I wasn't raised religious, I wasn't raised in England, or because I wasn't raised by lunatics. I felt that something had been utterly lost in translation. Sometimes I got the impression that the author had been issued a challenge to write sentences that no one in human history had ever written before.

I started keeping a notebook of the strangest sentences. I'd be happy with a pet rabbit and the odd stick insect. Hating poor people, gay people, and non-believers. But all these subjects are only skirted around. There are huge sections of fairy stories that were supposed to be parables about the protagonist's life, only I didn't care enough to try to decipher them. May 22, Jenn ifer rated it liked it Recommended to Jenn ifer by: I have only myself to blame. The chapters are aptly titled after books of the Old Testament Genesis through Ruth.

Winterson tells the story of Jeanette by juxtaposing myths and fairy tales with the life events of the protagonist.

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Same thing you say? Well who am I to argue. Anyway, Jeanette believes from an early age that she is meant to serve God; it is her calling. As she goes through adolescence, she struggles to come to terms with her sexuality which is demonized by the church, and her love of God and her relationship to the religious community. Said to be autobiographical, Winterson denies this stating, "Oranges is the document, both true and false, which will have to serve for my life until I went to Oxford, and after that I daresay that whatever I tell you will be another document, one that is both true and false.

Oct 25, Lishesque rated it really liked it Recommended to Lishesque by: You need a lot of patience for Jeanette Winterson's weird little Beowulfesque tangents, but if you can get past that, there are little gems of brilliant clarity scattered throughout. For me, this bit redeems all the boring parts: I miss God who was my f You need a lot of patience for Jeanette Winterson's weird little Beowulfesque tangents, but if you can get past that, there are little gems of brilliant clarity scattered throughout.

As it is, I can't settle, I want someone who is fierce and will love me until death and know that love is as strong as death, and be on my side for ever and ever. Romantic love has been diluted into paperback form and has sold thousands and millions of copies. Somewhere it is still in the original, written on tablets of stone. I would cross seas and suffer sunstroke and give away all I have, but not for a man, because they want to be the destroyer and never the destroyed. Her ability to stay true to herself and her god without any sourness in her heart even when rejected so harshly made me feel even more angry for the whole hypocrisy of it all.

In spring I started my second year at university, the first year that I started reading literature. The previous year was mainly random, generic courses like sociology, psychology, philosophy, computer fundamentals, statistics, and so on In Spring as part of the Introduction to Fiction course I read my first ever short story in English The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Alan Poe , my first ever novella in English The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka , and my first ever novel in English In spring I started my second year at university, the first year that I started reading literature.

A novel with autobiographical elements, a pseudo-autobiography where facts are blended with fiction. It deals with a lesbian girl living in a fanatically religious society in a suburban town in the north of England in the late 's - early 's In I wasn't able to grasp the whole meaning, the wittiness, and the beauty of the language this book has. Now, 9 years later, more mature in English and in reading all kinds, genres, lengths of books; I was positive and confident that this time around, reading Oranges would be a success, and it was.

After , I also spent a few years living in Manchester and the atmosphere, the landscapes, the whole feeling of suburban life in Northern England was more vivid to me and it was as if I was there. That what's interesting when rereading a book after almost 10 years. The book hasn't changed but you did, and the experience is entirely different. The reason I reread this book was because I good friend learnt that this was my first book I read in English and since Winterson is her favourite author we decided for a buddy read.

I believe she enjoyed it far more than I did, even for a second time. The novel with its humour that sometimes is sweet like honey and sometimes bitter like poison, is a critique on the absurdity, the inhumanity, and the silliness of religion. All the early heroes and heroines of the English novel - Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Richardson's Pamela and Clarissa - make sense of their peculiar lives by reference to the Bible. Jeanette learns from the Bible via her mother "the signs and wonders that the unbeliever might never understand". There are other types of narrative to which the novel turns.

Intermittently it flies into newly imagined fragments of fairy-tale or Arthurian myth, daydreams of knights and princesses and sorcerers. These dramatise the heroine's desires and fears. But they are, literally, detached from the tale of her youth. The Bible is its narrative marrow. Jeanette may escape her sect, but not the ready store of stories she has been given. Join him and Jeanette Winterson for a discussion on Thursday November 1. Doors open at 6. To reserve a ticket email book.

Topics Books Book club. Time's Arrow by Martin Amis. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Gifts and box sets Penguin Shop Flipper gift picker. For the young and young at heart. Innovative, punchy and tender, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession. With a new introduction by the author 'Witty, bizarre, extraordinary and exhilarating' The Times 'She is a master of her material , a writer in whom great talent abides' Vanity Fair 'Many consider her to be the best living writer in this language