Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 291
Aaron Roy Weintraub's short story "Innocence" has two main characters, Wiley and Orra, along with minor characters that do not appear directly in the story.
Wiley Silenowicz is a senior student at Harvard. He attends the elite school only because of his ability, not coming from wealth or being a legacy as most of his classmates are. Wiley is Jewish, like the author, and it is apparent that he is conscious of feeling out of place. For him, Orra is an object of desire due to being somewhat forbidden in the eyes of many of his peers, those of both his background and hers. Unlike Orra, Wiley has some limited sexual experience and skill.
Orra Perkins is a senior student at Radcliffe, a famous elite all-women's university at a time when Harvard still only allowed men to enroll. The two schools were counterparts and eventually merged. Orra is from an elite, wealthy, old-money background and is described as so sexual and beautiful that all but the wealthiest men are afraid to approach her. Her looks intimidate men in the bedroom as well, and they have never been able to make her climax before Wiley, leaving her frustrated and self-conscious. It is only after Wiley is able to bring her to climax (after a great deal of patient effort that makes up most of the short story) that Orra realizes there is nothing wrong with her, physically, psychologically, or sexually. The problem had always been the unskilled men she was with.
The story also mentions unnamed men who were previous sexual partners of Orra. They are never described except as having been unable to bring her to orgasm and as being well off and from families with a long history of wealth.
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