Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 614
At the age of seventeen or eighteen, the narrator attends Casey Academy, a coed school somewhere in New England. She is a child of privilege who vacations at ski resorts, at summer houses on sunny islands, or on camping trips in Colorado. She is also an active participant in the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. She does not fear pregnancy because she has been taking birth control pills since she was fifteen years old. The psychological consequences for this young woman, however, become the important focus of her narration.
She begins by listing and briefly describing sexual encounters with fifteen different boys, starting with Leo in the bottom of an empty swimming pool. With Tim it was in the woods off campus; with Willie it was while she tried to do the dishes; with Eben it was at night on the beach; with Mack it was during the hottest summer ever on an island; with Paul it was in Colorado with their sleeping bags zipped together; with Simon it was in the balcony of the school chapel. She concludes her itemization with Wendel Blair, an experienced lover who knew many expert angles.
During these encounters, the narrator usually is emotionally removed from the experience. For example, when Tim returns to her after closing the door, he finds merely a body waiting on the rug. The boy to whom she is attracted, Philip, does not notice her, and she observes that the less a boy notices her, the more she thinks about him.
The narrator’s parents are unaware of her promiscuity and of the unsupervised weekends that she and her friends arrange at their parents’ beach houses and unused New York apartments. She is alienated from her parents and teachers, holding them in contempt for their naïveté about who she is and what she does. The school doctor gives out birth control pills like aspirin, with no concern about instructions that should accompany his prescriptions.
The narrator admits that she can do certain things well. As a child, she could play whiffle ball just as well as the boys next door, but the boys still would tie up her ankles until she showed them her underpants. Now she is good at math, painting, even sports, but sex interferes with all these skills and dampens her ambition until, she remarks,...
(The entire section contains 614 words.)
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