How I Learned to Drive

by Paula Vogel

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What are Li'l Bit's feelings towards her body in How I Learned to Drive?

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It is incredibly important to identify the impact of Li'l Bit's family and friends on her sexual development as a child. Remember that she has already been introduced to the idea that women should submit to being thought of and treated as sexual objects through the example of her grandmother, who submitted to sex with her husband every day even though she wasn't interested. Li'l Bit has therefore been raised in an environment where women are expected to give in to the sexual advances of men.

However, this is something that is heightened with Li'l Bit reaches puberty and in particular with the development of her breasts. Her family makes her feel uncomfortable about them as they talk about them over Sunday dinner. All of her classmates seem to treat her breasts with stunned amazement, as if Li'l Bit is somehow separate from them and a kind of creature.

In many ways, her relationship with Peck gives her a sense of empowerment as he is the only person in her family who does not make her feel objectified and self-conscious. The power that she has over him in their relationship can be seen as something she desires because of the way that society makes her feel such dis-ease with her body.

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