Rubyfruit Jungle | Study Guide

Rita Mae Brown

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Rubyfruit Jungle | Book 1, Chapter 2 | Summary

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Summary

Four years later, the Bolt family has moved to the nearby town of Shiloh, where they can save money by living with relatives. These relatives, the Denmans, are the daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons of Carrie's sister Florence. Molly dislikes Florence and calls her "the Mouth" because she constantly gossips. Molly does like her cousin Leroy, however, who is just her age. They are each other's main playmates in the boring existence in which their poverty places them.

When Molly spots an opened, empty box of raisins on the porch of the little neighborhood store, she immediately sees an opportunity to get revenge on her continued arch enemy, the tattler Earl Stambach. After collecting a handful of rabbit droppings (which look like raisins) and depositing them in the raisin box, she sends Leroy to swipe some of the raisins Florence has drying on the porch of their house to mix with the rabbit turds. Then they set off to find Earl.

Molly suggests it's time to "call a truce" and says she won't beat Earl up if he stops tattling. Then she offers him the box of raisins as a present "to make it legal." Earl believes her, snatching the box and eating the raisins quickly. When Molly asks how they tasted, he replies "some were mushy and bitter." Leroy begins laughing uncontrollably and tells Earl he has eaten "a box full of rabbit turds mixed with raisins." Before Earl begins crying and vomiting, Molly makes sure he understands the warning: "You rat on me one more time and I'm gonna do a whole lot worse so you'd better lay off me, Earl Stambach." Earl promises those days are behind them. As Leroy and Molly walk away, Leroy wants to revel in their victory, but Molly tells him to shut up.

Analysis

Molly's keen eyes and sharp wit present themselves again in this chapter. Readers should definitely realize by the end of this chapter just how smart and strong she is. She quickly assesses a situation and responds in a way that will benefit her—or at least increase her chances of surviving a tough situation. She can beat up most of the boys her age, and her physical strength will be featured over and over in the novel, with her muscles symbolic of her inner strength. These traits will serve her well throughout the novel. Comfortable being a leader, she is not opposed to using flattery or other manipulative actions to get others to do what she wishes.

Readers should also note the way Leroy depends on his smarter and physically stronger cousin for entertainment, for protection, and for understanding things too complex for his lesser intelligence to grasp. Leroy wants only to be accepted by others, and throughout his life he will struggle to be part of a group. In Chapter 1 this trait is already revealed. When Broccoli is showing off his penis, Leroy wants others to look at and like his as well. But because Leroy is circumcised, his penis is not interesting to others. Molly's response is to give him 15 cents each day of the money she takes in to "make him feel better." She will try to help her cousin feel better throughout the story of their intertwined lives, but she is not always successful.

It's interesting that where Molly goes to find the rabbit feces—symbolic of her disgust for Earl—is into the woods, specifically into the "cool woods" on a very hot day. Readers should remember this is where Molly tends to go when she needs to think through things, to figure out some way of healing herself or putting herself back in charge, as she did in Chapter 1.

One important thought Molly has at the end of this chapter should be remembered. She is surprised at her conflicted emotions after punishing Earl and getting the upper hand. Reflecting on her success, she ponders, "I fixed him real good and he deserves it. How come I don't feel good about it?" Molly will certainly be "fixed" by people in power throughout her life, and she knows it doesn't feel good. She has empathy.

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