True to established form, Rita Mae T Brown's fiction incorporates many social concerns which often have to do with being the outsider or the minority in a given situation or community. Predictably, Brown deals mostly with women, gays and people of color, how society reacts to these groups, and how these groups react to society.
Venus Envy, while touching on topics such as AIDS, alcoholism, male friendships, female friendships, dysfunctional families, class tensions and racial barriers, retains as its overarching concern the survival of the gay woman in the male dominated heterosexual world.
Brown's major theme in this novel consists of an expose and criticism of the social norms and expectations which trap people into acting contrary to their true nature, and thus prevent them from achieving fulfillment and happiness. The institution of marriage takes a beating in this novel, as all the people who are married are desperately unhappy and trapped by convention into living with a person they no longer love. The only really positive portrayal of marriage is given as a retrospective by Ruru, who is now a widow and thus able to defy social convention in ways which the other female protagonists cannot. The mute assumption of heterosexual identity is another convention that Brown deplores, and through Frazier, the main protagonist of the novel, Brown explores the concept of the importance of personal integrity juxtaposed against the prospect of...
(The entire section is 376 words.)