Form and Content
Disappearing Acts is a narrative that works to undermine popular romance’s promise that two people in love can overcome the social conditions that might impede their happiness. When Zora meets Franklin, she quickly relinquishes her recent resolution to maintain her equanimity when faced with sexual desire. Franklin assumes the position of power. Zora, despite her steady job, artistic talent, education, and middle-class family ties, has less power to determine the outcome of the relationship than Franklin, who has none of these advantages. It becomes Zora’s responsibility not only inobtrusively to support him financially but also to support his fragile sense of well-being.
Her autonomy is threatened further by two unwanted pregnancies. She aborts the first without consulting Franklin, who is then furious for what he considers her duplicity. She tells him immediately about the second pregnancy. He wants the baby and promises to divorce his wife before the baby is born. Zora must now prepare for the child, support the household, and sympathize with Franklin about his current unemployment and tortured past. Although she continues to grant him authority, he can only respond with irritated resentment of her abilities, which continually threaten his tenuous sense of control.
Their son’s birth does nothing to bring the couple under the protective umbrella of a nuclear family. Franklin is jealous of the infant. To assume the role of...
(The entire section is 433 words.)