Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

by: Jeanette Winterson

Chapter 6: Joshua

Katy and Jeanette sleep together that night. Their love affair starts then but will continue for many years. Jeanette does not find it incongruous to love Katy and continue in the church. More than a year after the exorcism of Jeanette, Jeanette sees Melanie on Palm Sunday. Melanie tells Jeanette that she is going to be married. Jeanette feels angry and disappointed. On another later day she sees Melanie's fiancé and she spits at him.

Analysis

The Biblical Book of Joshua starts at a new historical beginning as the Hebrews are no longer enslaved and have returned to Israel to claim their promised land. During the Battle of Jericho, God rewards their faithfulness. After the Hebrews surround Jericho for seven days and blow their trumpets, the walls surrounding Jericho fall to the ground, showing the triumph of good over evil. With the fall of Jericho, the Hebrews were able to move into the legendary Promised Land.

Both the stone walls that fell around Jericho and the concept of the Promised Land are important for Jeanette. Jeanette will fight many battles in this chapter, but will triumph in the end because she will come to understand and accept her homosexuality. In the beginning, Jeanette feels that she loves Melanie as much as she loves God and does not think that she is doing anything wrong. In fact, Jeanette confesses her love for Melanie to her mother because she feels so happy about it. Soon Jeanette's pure love will come face to face with the rigid regulations of the church. The later exorcism of Jeanette, especially with her thirty-six hours of confinement, demonstrates the coldness and cruelty of her church family. The harshness of this blindly religious treatment conjures up images of previous such persecutions, such as some of the early witch trials. Winterson's documentation of Jeanette's persecution broadly testifies to the prejudicial treatment that homosexuals frequently suffer in society.

Although Jeanette faces conflict in her external world, the possibility of her someday finding a Promised Land of her own begins to open inside her. The orange demon allows Jeanette to clearly see what has been working inside her. She finds that demons are not necessarily bad, but that they simply make each person different. She initially repents due to hunger, but she does not make the demon leave. This false repentance is the beginning of Jeanette's successful conquest over her internal territory. She refuses to yield to the church's rhetoric over her internal sense of self.

The image of the stone wall appears in several of Jeanette's delirious dreams. In these dreams, Jeanette stands in cities that are surrounded by stones or by walls. These walls are a metaphor for the social forces that distort her self. Both in the City of Lost Chances and the Forbidden City, Jeanette finds herself looking out at the world beyond the walls wondering how she could manage to survive in the forests beyond. In other words, Jeanette sees that while these walls, i.e. the structure of her society, protect her, they also confine her. She longs to liberate herself but doubts her ability to wander safely in the world. In the middle of her chapter, Jeanette stands in a serious dilemma. If she frees herself from the walls, she will be alone in the cold forest. During her dream about the Forbidden City, she conjures up the image of Humpty Dumpty who tried to sit on the wall instead of choosing a side. Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and could never be put back together again. His solution does not seem to be the right one. Miss Jewsbury, however, appears to have attempted the Humpty Dumpty solution since she has lived for many years within the church and with lesbian desires. Jeanette does not want to choose this technique, but her future path with regards to her self and sexuality remains unclear.

After her exorcism, however, Jeanette appears to be changed. She holds numerous responsibilities in the church, including preaching and teaching Sunday school. She also shows her leadership abilities by comforting church members in times of crises, in Blackpool and with the Salvation Army. The congregation overreacts in both scenarios and only Jeanette, unholy though she is, has the intelligence and balance to set things right. By the end of the chapter, Jeanette has started a new love affair with Katy. After their first night together, a fantasy sequence appears about an Eden-like Garden near the Euphrates. This garden's centerpiece is an orange tree, which appears to represent heterosexuality, but its truth does not apply universally to everyone. One can eat from whatever fruit you want to within the garden and there are many. By the end of the chapter, Jeanette finally is able to make it past those walls by eating from the garden of her true self. She has at last found her Promised Land by being true to her desires. This lengthy chapter represents the peak of the action in the novel where the book's conflict comes to the forefront.