How does the reader get to understand the end of the Christine-Scarlett scene, the kiss that results in Scarlett's death in Lion in the Streets by Judith Thompson?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many of the characters in Lion in the Streets are contradictory and Scarlett is a leading example of this. We see the pitiful Scarlett, almost immobile in her wheelchair who throws off the stereotype of a disabled person as she recounts, for Christine, the sordid details of her sexual encounters with "my boy", purposefully shocking Christine with her descriptions; she like a "piece of fruit" and he coming when there's no moon - "my midnight man." Her tone is contemptuous and her pleasure at Christine's obvious discomfort is apparent. Christine however remains aloof, shocked but already thinking about her "story."

The seemingly impossible scenario together with the dancing suggests that this image is in Scarlett's imagination. However, we see more to Scarlett as Christine threatens to expose this story and from her begging and pleading when she realises what such an exposure would do to her parents or the realisation that they might send her to "the freakhouse", Scarlett reveals her own much darker side as she creates a scene representing Christine's death and her "eternity inside me." Scarlett relishes this visual image and , Christine, still confident of her superior position, is reduced and the "joke" is on her.

 Scarlett is a victim of her circumstances. Life for a disabled person is very bad and she is unable to fight off her own demons - or "lion"- because she is trapped. Isobel feels that it's not her fault but Christine has unleashed this feeling by treating Scarlett as if she is unimportant. Christine must therefore suffer her own internal hell after this. Isobel is almost hysterical as she screams at Christine. She is responsible for making Scarlett so detestable and for Scarlett threatening Christine in this way. The "kiss of death" reveals that Christine is a "SLAVE! You are a slave of the lion!"