Rubyfruit Jungle | Study Guide

Rita Mae Brown

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Rubyfruit Jungle | Book 4, Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

Polina takes three weeks of counseling to accept Molly's homosexuality. During that time Molly investigates Paul Digita, Polina's lover and an English professor at New York University. She is curious to see what Polina seeks in a partner.

Molly is shocked with how physically repulsive she finds Paul when she attends one of his lectures. Nevertheless she flirts with him after the lecture, and he invites her to tea. She learns he is also boring to talk to yet remains determined to see her idea through and accepts a date from the man for the next week. However, before that date Polina comes back into Molly's life. They go to a movie together, and Molly invites Polina to her apartment. Polina gets tipsy on wine, and their conversation inevitably turns to sex. Molly understands Polina's heterosexual orientation and her need for sexual fulfillment, especially since her husband accepts Paul as her lover, but she can't agree with it on any level. She tells Polina she finds men "boring" as compared to women.

When Polina accuses Molly of promoting "blatant lesbian propaganda" because Molly talks in such glowing terms about the intensity and pleasure of making love to a woman, Molly attacks back. She claims the real propaganda is the ads that "use heterosexuality and women's bodies to sell everything in this country." Molly is appalled "such an intelligent woman [could] be so classic a heterosexual bigot."

Perhaps because she is so worked up, Molly forces herself on Polina. When Polina responds, they undress quickly. Molly now discovers Polina's brand of sexual desire: fantasy. She instructs Molly to pretend they are in a men's restroom and Polina has a giant penis that Molly desires. Molly complies but gets no pleasure, explaining she does not need fantasy to enjoy lovemaking. However, because Polina requires it, she makes up a new story for Molly, in which they pretend to be men.

Molly keeps her date with Paul Digita. After they eat dinner and go for a walk, he invites her into his apartment to "look at [his] thesis" and quickly makes a move on her. Molly is disgusted to discover Paul, like Polina, has a sexual fantasy life. He visualizes himself as a woman with huge breasts that everyone wants. Molly leaves immediately.

Analysis

In a world that harshly judges Molly for her desire for women, it must be hard for her to accept the idea of heterosexuals who seem to display deviancy regularly through extramarital affairs and strange sexual fantasies. She views her love for women as "thick and rich and full of hidden treasures" and cannot understand why anyone would find such emotions difficult to accept.

In addition Molly enlightens Polina further about attitudes outside the familiar heterosexual world. When Polina mentions "blatant lesbian propaganda," Molly counters with her opinion of blatant heterosexual propaganda: advertising. Touching on the theme of patriarchy as problematic, Molly points out heterosexuality, traditional male-dominated families, and women's bodies all are exploited to sell products. Molly says, "You don't see ads of women kissing to sell Salem cigarettes." Polina is impressed, never having ventured outside the heterosexual world even in thought.

It may disconcert readers somewhat to see Molly displaying a touch of jealousy in the face of Polina's initial rejection of her. She can't imagine why she isn't desirable, and so she must investigate to learn more about what is desirable to Polina—Paul Digita. She acts a bit like Holly in using her looks to get Paul to comply with her need to get to know him. She clearly knows she can get men if she wants to, and she wields this power without much of a conscience. Yet such behavior doesn't seem to fit with her code of honor. Later when she half forces herself on Polina, her action again seems an unfair wielding of power to achieve her goal.

What has happened to Molly's ease with her own sexuality? One possible explanation is she finds the heterosexual world strange and disconcerting when she explores it and may be wondering whether this is why straight people fear the unknown aspects of the homosexual world.

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