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The question of identity, in particular sexual identity and status as the other is a major theme in this story.When Lionel gives in to his homosexual desires with Cocoanut, he is forever changed. He has broken out from the constraints thrust upon him by a society that views same sex erotic love as unnatural, and he is forced to confront not only the fact that he has defied the natural order as it previously existed within his mental framework, but also the fact that he enjoyed the act and began to feel a closeness and affection for another man.The only escape for him, in the end, is the destruction of the object that he sees of his unnatural desire.
Looking at the novel in terms of one of the basic tenets of postmodernism, there is an emphasis on subjectivity and deconstruction. It is about ways of seeing that matter, and the ways in which views are shaped by perception. Lionel's view is shaped by what he sees as natural love when he leaves the room. When he returns, he cannot confront the fact that what he has experienced does not agree with what he has been taught to believe. The fragmentation of society and the deconstruction of belief systems is a major aspect of postmodern literature, as is the emphasis on the individual and identity. Both are themes that are examined heavily in the story.
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