Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

by: Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette

Jeanette is the narrator of the novel, its heroine, and its primary star. She is a kind, questioning girl who has approached the world with sincere seriousness from a young age. As a child, she deeply believes in her church. At school, she decorates her arts and crafts with biblical texts. Her church family makes her feel happy and warm inside. The strong ideas advocated by her mother initially form Jeanette's own ideology. As she is exposed to more of the world, however, Jeanette begins to develop her own ideas. In time, her own intellect offers different interpretations from what she has been taught. In the end, Jeanette will even go so far as to embrace her lesbianism, which is a characteristic completely disdained by her society. Jeanette's relative fearlessness in embracing her true self shows her to be a heroine of considerable bravery. Her behavior also is compassionate and kind. Although her church already has tortured her by starving her for thirty-six hours, Jeanette still takes pains to comfort some of its members in their distress. When the congregation fights with men in Blackpool, it is only Jeanette who has the ability to calmly defuse the situation. When women in the society cry because they have been kicked out of the Salvation Army band, Jeanette supports and cheers them. Jeanette's unwavering love for these members of her church makes her highly sympathetic. Although the church rejects her out of hand, Jeanette's behavior never comes reactionary or angry. Because Jeanette is such a compassionate and thoughtful character, it is easy to take her side and believe that her lesbianism is not wrong. The church group and Jeanette's mother, on the other hand, appear to be thoughtless, and simply follow regulations with no thoughts of their own. Jeanette stands, in contrast, as a symbol of spirit and life.