How does Winterson question traditional values and power structures?
Winterson presents Jeanette falling in love, in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, as a natural occurrence. Jeanette’s lack of awareness of her actions linked to Melanie deliberately stresses the normality of their relationship to them. The utilisation of the verb ‘steal’ exposes the care she holds for Melanie as she carries out a deed she would view as wrong, due to her Christian values, just to please Melanie. This causes the reader to contemplate whether Jeanette’s homosexuality is wrong which coherently leads to the reader questioning the traditional values we uphold within society.
Jeanette’s mother has a binary philosophy to life accompanied with almost fundamentalist Christian views. By the church creating the noun phrase, ‘Unnatural Passion’, for homosexuality it projects the sheer vitriol of the church to anything different. The church played a key role in Jeanette’s development making it near impossible for her not to feel the impact of their outlook on homosexuality. By allowing the reader to observe the church’s hatred towards happenings that they deem peculiar, the reader builds connection to the protagonist as Winterson displays how comfortable Jeanette is with Melanie, ‘glad the Lord had brought us together’. Therefore, the reader has the chance to review societal, religious and also their personal outlook on aspects that are different.
Winterson wittily fabricates this scenario to challenge the traditional values people hold. People often dislike change, albeit is needed for progression. By displaying the repulsion towards the notion of Jeanette falling in love with someone of the same sex with brutal treatment, “…don’t let her out of this room, and don’t feed her.”, after the church learns of her relationship with Melanie, exposes that homophobia is a dated ideology. Thus questioning Biblical views on homosexuality as it is referred to as a, ‘detestable sin’.