Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 199

In “Lechery” and the rest of the stories that appear in Jayne Anne Phillips’s collection Black Tickets (1979), the primary themes are home, family, loss, and degeneration. “Lechery” is a typical Phillips story in that her characters are usually outcasts, drug addicts, prostitutes, and street people who try to create makeshift family arrangements that, while often perverse, nevertheless function as a unit. Though the narrator in “Lechery” remains nameless—reinforcing the anonymous quality of so many rejected people—Phillips selects details and creates events that make the narrator both universal and unique at the same time. The author is never shy about closely examining and finding dignity in the lives of people that the average reader does not want to examine too closely.

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As with all the stories in the collection, this story’s principal theme is also the theme of language and how character is formed in relation to the stories being told and the words being chosen. There is a hallucinogenic quality to the language of the story that suits both the characters’ circumstances and the dualistic story, which is a tale of abuse and meaninglessness and of characters finding comfort and meaning, if a bit unusual.

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