Rubyfruit Jungle | Study Guide

Rita Mae Brown

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Rubyfruit Jungle | Book 2, Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

This chapter follows Molly to Gainesville where she is a student at the University of Florida. She would rather be attending school elsewhere, but she got a full tuition scholarship plus room and board at Florida. She takes a Greyhound bus to the campus, carrying just a single suitcase.

Molly is assigned to the dormitory Broward Hall and is pleased with her roommate, Faye Raider, a rich premed student from Jacksonville. Molly likes Faye because they share "a common bond for disruption." Both join sororities that "dominate" the campus: Faye pledges Chi Omega, and Molly pledges Delta Delta Delta. Molly is quickly elected freshman representative to the student council, with Faye acting as her campaign manager.

Faye has so much money she spends it without a care. Molly is often the beneficiary of Faye's benevolence, receiving a free wardrobe from her roommate as well as all the liquor she wants. Although Molly can handle a party lifestyle, Faye cannot. Her grades suffer, and she is careless in her behavior. Before the semester is over, Faye is pregnant. Molly takes her for an abortion (illegal at the time) in a medical student's trailer and then skips class for two days to care for her. By the weekend Faye is ready to get back to partying and talks Molly into going to Jacksonville with her. Molly is surprised when Faye takes her to Rosetta's, a gay bar. There they run into a lesbian couple who recognize them from the University of Florida. The two girls, Dix and Eunice, share intimate details of their relationship, thinking Faye and Molly are also lesbians. Finding it funny, Faye plays along, calling her relationship with Molly "love at first sight." After Faye and Molly leave the bar, Molly informs Faye she has, in fact, had same-sex relations. When Faye asks Molly to make love with her, Molly's first response is negative: "My experiences with non-lesbians who want to sleep with me have been gross." Faye presses her for details, so Molly tells her about Carolyn. Faye is sympathetic and talks Molly into having sex.

After that, all Faye and Molly want is to stay in bed. Faye stops drinking and studies so they can be together. By February, however, everyone in the dormitory has started to avoid them. In her usual way, Molly decides it's best to tell the truth when two girls finally insinuate that Molly and Faye are lesbians. Faye follows up by mocking the girl who asked. Within a half hour Faye has been summoned to the dorm's resident counselor's office, while Molly is sent to the dean of women.

Miss Marne, "a heiferlike, red-haired woman who had been a major in the Army Corps during World War II," begins her talk with Molly in a pleasant way, giving her the opportunity to "explain" the "unfortunate incident" that just occurred. She even compliments Molly about how she has "risen above [her] circumstances" and already made a mark on the university. But Molly will not oblige Miss Marne and calmly states she happily loves Faye romantically. Miss Marne calls her "an aberration ... not normal" and adds she needs "professional assistance," which she has already arranged with a school psychiatrist, Molly can learn how to have "a deeper, more meaningful relationship with a man." Molly explodes at these ideas and advises Miss Marne that she knows Miss Marne is a lesbian who has been living with an English professor for 15 years. She concludes with, "Hell, at least I'm honest about what I am." Miss Marne's response is to have Molly immediately escorted to "the looney ward," where she endures days of psychiatric counseling. She decides to cooperate so she can be released as soon as possible, but when she returns to Broward Hall a week later, she finds two letters. One is from her sorority saying they have dropped her. The other is from Faye, who has been sent home. Faye says her parents are probably going to place her "in the funny farm." She warns Molly, "Get out of here ... and don't try to find me. There's no time for us now. Everything is stacked against us ... Run. You're the stronger of the two of us. Go to a big city ... Be free." Faye has left a $20 bill and a bottle of bourbon.

The next day the scholarship committee advises Molly her scholarship has been revoked. She has no choice but to get on a Greyhound bus back to Fort Lauderdale.

Analysis

Even though Molly is in a new location in this chapter, this part of the narrative is still told as part of Book 2. This is because Molly spends such a short time in Gainesville, and Brown views that time as part of her main character's emergence into adulthood. Yet in that short time Molly experiences a great deal. She is on a heady trip toward success in college when her love affair with Faye interrupts that trajectory. Readers should notice Molly has not changed, but society's perception of her has. Instead of being viewed as one of the university's "most outstanding students," as Miss Marne puts it, Molly is now "a hostile, destructive personality" in need of supervision and counseling. This is the moment Molly closes the door on childhood—or as she rephrases it at the end of the chapter, "I closed the door forever on idealism and the essential goodness of human nature."

Another noteworthy aspect of Molly is her continued avowals that romance and monogamy are not for her. As she and Faye discuss how "moonie" Dix and Eunice are over each other, Molly declares, "I can't stand all that romantic crap ... everybody does it, straight or gay. It turns me off." Her independent streak, her refusal to allow people to label her, will be a major part of her life story in the rest of the novel. However, she is capable of love. She loved Leota, and she tells Miss Marne, "I'm in love with my roommate. She makes me happy." She also shares with Faye how hurt she was by Carolyn.

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