Rubyfruit Jungle | Study Guide

Rita Mae Brown

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Rubyfruit Jungle | Book 2, Chapter 8 | Summary



This chapter is set during the summer between Molly's junior and senior year in high school. As the new student council president, Molly is able to go to Tallahassee for Girls State (a summer leadership conference), where her peers elect her mock governor of the state. With Carolyn and Connie gone for the summer and her realization she and Leroy no longer have anything in common, Molly feels mostly alienated from people her own age all summer. However, she does bond strongly with her father, who seems to be around more than previously.

The attachment, however, is short-lived, for Carl dies suddenly that summer of a heart attack. The grief around his death fills the house, and Florence attacks Molly in her usual way because Molly is unable to cry, even at Carl's funeral. Molly and her mother continue fighting as always, but their animosity is made worse by everyone's misery. On the day Molly does finally cry, it's because she has momentarily forgotten Carl is dead and has jumped up after being lost in a good book to get a fresh pot of coffee ready for when he gets home from work. Florence and Carrie come in and see she has been crying, but Molly does not share the reason, preferring to say the book is sad. For her response, she gets the usual verbal abuse from the two women.


The timing of the bonding times Molly and Carl enjoy right before his death would seem to hint at his knowledge it was imminent. He takes the time to bolster his daughter's resolve and self-esteem and to offer her excellent advice. He warns her she will probably face a life of loneliness because of her inability to act as he does, as a "yes man." He is sad to learn she already feels as though she has "no one but [her] own sweet self" to rely on. This is a clear belief she has, given that earlier in the chapter when her breach with Leroy becomes more definitive, she reflects on the idea "I had never thought I had much in common with anybody." Perhaps the best advice Carl offers his daughter is to "go on and do whatever you want to do and the hell with the rest of the world ... damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, kid; don't listen to nobody but your own self."

In sharp contrast to how clearly Carl understands his daughter, Carrie and Florence continue to show no real understanding of who she is. They see her as arrogant and coldhearted. They even chide her for her impressive successes, saying she will have an even bigger ego because of them. Still, although Molly never has much respect or use for Florence, she does at times see characteristics in Carrie to admire. For example, when they ride to Carl's funeral in a Lincoln Continental and Carrie makes the cynical remark that death is the only way poor people can have that experience, Molly observes, "Carrie wasn't fooled by show and she regarded most of the world around her as a show for the rich at the expense of the poor." This is an attitude Molly can admire.

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