More than anything else, Summer is the story of a young woman’s discovery of sexual desire. At the beginning of the novel, Charity is completely inexperienced when it comes to men; she has seen other people in the village break off into couples, but the young men of North Dormer hold no attraction for her. Harney is the first man Charity feels an interest in, and as she spends time with him her feelings change and develop. But unlike the heroines of many other novels, Charity does not dream of a cozy cottage or the domestic life of a wife and mother. Her desire is for sexual fulfillment.
The Charity who opens the novel is bored with everything and everyone. Though tired and cold, when Charity steps down from the buggy after being tenderly and platonically held by Harney in the rain she feels as though “the ground were a sunlit wave and she the spray on its crest.” As she watches him through the window of his bedroom, she feels “All her old resentments and rebellions . . . confusedly mingled with the yearning roused by Harney’s nearness.” And when they have begun their affair, she feels that “all the rest of life” has become “a mere cloudy rim about the central glory of their passion.” As she waits for Harney in their secret meeting place, Charity, who has been wanting to get out of North Dormer since she was mature enough to frame the thought, feels that he has “caught her up and carried her away...
(The entire section is 1101 words.)
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