Essay on Elsie and Her Mother in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

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Elsie and Her Mother in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

In a story of a young girl coming of age and finding her sexuality in a very religious community, it is key to have a female figure that plays a key role for the character. A mother should play the key role but what happens when this role is confused with a very spiritual role? Where will a young girl turn to when her life goes against the rules society has set for her?

Jeanette has lived a sheltered life with no influence on her except for the church. Her mother is a strict Christian with a deep resentment for things and people not within her fold. Being brought up in a society where going against the norm is a sin. A society that shakes its head at acts of individualism and
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These differences between these two women are what make Jeanette a rounded person, if not a confused one at first. Jeanette gained a sense a self with her mother. She knew she was to work with the Lord and teach his words to others. Her goal in life was to go and be a missionary, to teach others how to believe in God. Combined with this imbedded sense of self is the confidence Elsie gave her. Elsie not only understood

the word of the Lord and came from within the society Jeanette grew up in, she had a sense of the world around her, that the world didn?t start and stop with the preaching of the Lord. Elsie gave Jeanette a feeling of fellowship, a deep friendship that was based on true feelings, not the Lord.

In one part of the book Elsie helps Jeanette with the transition of home schooling, which was based on biblical texts, to public schooling. Elsie gave Jeanette a way of incorporating her biblical background into a public school setting, even if it did shock and raise eyebrows. The older woman gave Jeanette a much-needed avenue to express herself. At this time her mother is not too upset with the friendship. She likes the reaction Jeanette is getting from her religious art works and other biblical oddities that seem out of place in public school. Elsie is still seen as a fellow follower, a follower of Jeanette?s mother.
The relationship between Elsie and her mother gets strained after Jeanette is
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