Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dear Enemy: Opposite Sex

In Dear Enemy, the sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs, Jerusha's friend Sallie McBride speaks of divorce and sex:
There seems to have been no reason for her divorce from the ordinary point of view; the marriage just simply didn't work. They weren't friends. If he had been a woman, she wouldn't have wasted half an hour talking with him. If she had been a man, he would have said: "Glad to see you. How are you?" and gone on. And yet they MARRIED. Isn't it dreadful how blind this sex business can make people? (Jean Webster, Dear Enemy, 1915)
Jerusha's friend, anyway, can speak rather directly about sex - even though she's speaking of marriage. And an interesting choice of wording there, for marriage: "sex business."

Jerusha, by the way, is happily married to the man of letters . . .



At 9:23 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Shows you what I know about females. Or female authors, at least.

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

But you may also be right.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

If she ended up marrying her sponsor, then it was a spectacularly bad call on my part. There are dimensions of feminine thought and behavior that I hadn't considered, like how some relationships evolve from conflict to love (assuming, of course, that our heroine has married Daddy-Long-Legs for love). The early-1900s chasteness of the prose, and the likelihood that this was a story aimed at younger readers, had lulled me into thinking that there wouldn't be the potentially naughty undercurrents you were hinting at. I simply didn't see the relationship arc ending in marriage, but kudos to you for catching on to hints that the characters might have "designs" for each other.

It is a bit creepy, though, when you think about it: if the correspondence in the first book represents a kind of light-touch, long-distance flirtation by "Smith," well... he apparently likes 'em young, and his strategy combining arrogance, aloofness, and a demand for intimacy of tone seems to have netted him a fish—a fry, really. "Smith" is like the Taoist sage who accomplishes everything by doing nothing. Want a woman? Act mysterious, put yourself into an unequal power relationship with her, demand that she write you intimately, and refuse to respond. Excellent. I should try this with some teenagers!

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You talkin' jailbait, Kevin!

Jeffery Hodges

@ @ @

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Yummy, yummy jailbait...

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Small fry to beach a whale.

Jeffery Hodges

@ @ @


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