Rubyfruit Jungle | Study Guide

Rita Mae Brown

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Rubyfruit Jungle | Book 2, Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

The trip to Florida seems endless. In Athens, Georgia, Molly innocently enters a bathroom labeled "Colored" and is severely reprimanded by Carrie, who warns "I'm gonna whale you good" if she does that again. Carl tries to explain to Molly that Carrie is only trying to protect her by insisting she follow the segregation rules, but Molly is outraged everyone acts as though prejudice doesn't exist where they are from. "They just don't put 'Colored' over the bathroom doors, that's all," she says, and asserts, "I ain't staying away from people because they look different."

The Bolts settle in Fort Lauderdale, where Carl finds work as a butcher. The Denmans settle slightly north, in Loxahachee so Ep can be closer to the house painting company where he works. For Molly, the summer is long and boring, broken up only by weekend visits with Leroy. When she finally starts junior high school, she takes her time figuring out how to deal with the new school, which includes a noticeably large gap between the haves and the have-nots.

By the end of seventh grade, Molly has figured out her strategy. She will rely on her intelligence and sense of humor to become popular. She quickly discards her poor grammar and talks her mother into letting her buy just a few higher-quality items of clothing rather than more cheap things.

Meanwhile, Leroy is adjusting to life in Florida in his way. He still feels the need to be accepted and so has drifted toward the crowd most likely to take him in: the rednecks, who are "all tough" and "smoke and swear and take cars apart." Struggling academically, he seems likely to flunk eighth grade. But the biggest surprise is confusion about his sexuality. He meets a 25-year-old man to whom he is attracted and performs some sex acts with. But he doesn't want to be "a queer" because his father and Ted will "kill [him] for sure." So, he has also tried sleeping with a prostitute. When he asks Molly what she thinks, her reply is pure Molly: "I think you are Leroy Denman, that's what I think." She stresses he should do whatever feels good—which is what she plans to do, with girls sometimes and with boys sometimes—and it is nobody's business or right to judge anyone for their choices.

Then Leroy asks Molly if she will have sex with him. She is shocked, not by the idea of having sex, but by never having thought of having sex with Leroy. They decide to try right away and go to a shack at the back of the trailer park where Leroy lives. The experience is not too bad for either one of them, and Molly decides she will continue experimenting with him.

Analysis

For a seventh-grader Molly has a keen awareness of how the world operates. She knows it is best for her to observe those around her in a new environment to see how she can take advantage of situations and control them. She is smart enough to change some things about herself as long as they don't define her—dropping her bad grammar is a good example. However, she clearly will not change her basic self to fit in, and she tries hard to get Leroy to adopt this way of thinking. The problem is he has neither her strength nor intelligence. He is driven by a need for acceptance and suffers from a lack of understanding about who he really is, so although it takes Molly a long time to give up her calls for him to be true to himself, he is never going to be like her.

Molly's irreverence toward sex as related to love is somewhat humorous. She feels she must warn Leroy by telling him, "I don't think I feel, uh—romantic about you." She feels some pleasure from their sexual play but is sure she enjoyed it more with Leota. However, defining her sexuality doesn't seem to be a driving force for her at this time, as she thinks to herself, "We got to do it a lot more and maybe I'll do around twenty or thirty men and twenty or thirty women and then I'll decide." In the same way she doesn't understand Leroy's concerns about his enjoyment of Craig, saying, "Keep doing it if it feels good. Hide it, that's all. It's nobody's business what you're doing." Her advice to "hide it" is the only suggestion that doesn't ring true from Molly, who hates that people have to hide anything. For example, when she rages against Carrie's warning that she must not mingle with African Americans, she is trying to remain true to what she believes in: that all people deserve to be treated in the same way. However, Molly wants Leroy to be safe from the wrath he would receive if labeled "a queer," and she seems to know she must save her own self from similar negative repercussions as well should she decide she prefers to be with women.

One of the book's symbols is featured in this chapter: Molly's muscles. Readers learn Molly still makes her anger known through her fists, as she reminds Leroy at one point: "I can still lay you out flat." She says this as she warns him not to tell her what to do, underscoring that her physical strength represents her inner convictions as well. Later as the two get undressed, Leroy particularly notices and admires Molly's muscles: "You look fine. I can see all those little muscles in your stomach. Your stomach is better than mine." Indeed, Molly is stronger in every way than Leroy, and he is painfully aware of that fact.

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