Homework Help

How does Esther learn to take control of her sexual identity?

user profile pic

kkch0224 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 27, 2011 at 11:55 AM via web

dislike 0 like

How does Esther learn to take control of her sexual identity?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 27, 2011 at 7:48 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

I think that the issues surrounding Esther's sexual identity revolve around other subterranean conditions that plague Esther.  Essentially, Esther does what is expected out of her and is never questioning why she does what she does.  She scores good marks, works as a prestigious intern, and fulfills all that is required of her.  It is at this point where she begins to delve into a realm of questioning of her identity and who she is.  From this point, it seems that everything is fair game.  Like so much in this social setting, there is a belief that all profound questions can contain easy answers.  These answers are reductive in nature.  For example, Esther sees her choices as work to be "number one" or to marry and have kids.  There is little complexity in these options, and this is what drives Esther to question everything. Her sexuality is a part of this.  I think Esther examines the issue of sexuality because everything else is being questioned in her life.  The message that comes out of this questioning process is that individuals must understand their own identity and who they are, of which sexuality is a part.  It would be another "easy" answer if Esther were to quickly capitulate to the idea of being with another woman as solving all of her questions.  She does not, as demonstrated in her rejecting Joan's advances.  Sexuality is shown to be something that is a part of, but not something that controls, an individual's identity.  The ending of the story is one where Esther has understood more of who she is and what that entails.  In "being born twice—patched, retreaded and approved for the road," Esther has gained a fuller grasp of her identity and who she is, of which her sexuality is a part.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes