Rubyfruit Jungle | Study Guide

Rita Mae Brown

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Rubyfruit Jungle | Book 4, Chapter 14 | Summary

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Summary

Molly finds a job as an exotic dancer but lasts only two weeks before punching an aggressive customer and getting fired. She realizes she has to find a day job, which means she will need to cut down on her class load at school. The job she lands is at Silver Publishing Company as a typist. It doesn't take long for her to be noticed; she could "both read and spell ... [and] dash off copy on command." The president's wife, Stella, a vain woman who works for fun, soon promotes Molly to be the assistant to James Adler, a valued editor.

This should be good news, but there is an obstacle. Rhea Rhadin, the lazy head receptionist, has a crush on James Adler and is jealous because Molly now works closely with him. Rhea tries to make Molly's life miserable, blaming every mishap in the office on her. Finding the situation intolerable, Molly comes up with a revenge scheme. She collects a bag of dog feces and puts it in Rhea's desk drawers early one morning. When Rhea discovers the smelly mess, she creates a scene.

Rhea of course knows who the real culprit is and storms into the room where James and Molly are working. She says to James, "Your girlfriend is a dyke," and then to Molly, "You're even lower than a lesbian, Molly Bolt. You're a lesbian who steals men!" As Rhea storms out, she collides with author Polina Bellantoni, there to review her manuscript, and knocks her to the ground. As James and Molly rush to assist her, Molly realizes she would like to get involved with this 41-year-old professor whose looks she admires on first sight.

Soon Molly is handling Polina's biweekly manuscript reviews without James, who finds Polina's level of scrutiny agonizing. After a couple of months, Molly receives an invitation to dinner at the Bellantonis' house. Unimpressed with Polina's frumpy, introverted husband, Molly, however, likes their 16-year-old daughter, Alice. The three women enjoy a lively conversation after dinner, and Polina understands the prejudicial treatment Molly is getting as the only woman in her film classes—saying she, too, faces discrimination as a professor. Polina and Molly begin seeing each other socially. Their relationship comes to a screeching halt, however, when Molly lets Polina know she is a lesbian. Polina excuses herself from Molly's presence, saying, "Let me go home and think this through." Molly admits this attitude hurts her.

Analysis

Although Molly's location has not changed with the movement of the novel from Book 3 to Book 4, her focus has. Now she is interested only in getting her film degree. She is finished dabbling around with "life in the big city" and intent on getting what she needs from it. She buckles down and takes a nine-to-five job that requires her to dress and behave in a traditional way. Still she can't quite stop bucking the system, and the prank she pulls on Rhea is vintage Molly in its humor and appropriateness to the situation. And she goes undetected for her act of revenge.

The attraction to Polina is not quite in Molly's plan, but at least they are equals in their level of intelligence and experience with prejudice. That's why she is so shocked when Polina responds to Molly's lesbianism with nothing short of revulsion. Her reaction brings back the rigid response Connie had to the news and with it all the hurt from that time. Molly asks herself, "Why does it get to me? Why can't I just write off those people the way they write me off? Why does it always get through and hurt?" It seems to Molly as soon as she "labels" herself she gets hurt by rejection.

Readers should not miss the attraction Molly also has for Polina's daughter, Alice. She describes her on their first meeting as "unforgettable ... a Renaissance princess come back to life." That Molly relates to Alice, who is not much younger than she is, and they can talk easily—and that Polina delights in that—should not be overlooked.

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