In the book, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; Jeanette Winterson constantly makes use of fairytales in her literary work. Winterson strategically uses these fairytales to get her points across. She uses these abstracts stories to draw the reader’s attention to the reality of what she is experiencing in her real life and also as a critique of the society she lives in. one such effective use of a fairytale in the book is in the section of Ruth where Jeanette talks about the story of Winnet Stonejar.
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In this fairytale, Winnet lives alone in a great kingdom but is tricked by a sorcerer to become his apprentice. After living many years with the sorcerer, she actually becomes convinced the sorcerer is her father. Winnet falls in love with a boy in the kingdom and invites him to one of the feasts at the castle. At the feast, Winnet’s father grows becomes furious with the boy and locks him up. Winnet frees him. the sorcerer then tells Winnet to leave the village and that he will take away her powers. Winnet finds it hard to come to a decision but a raven tells her that the sorcerer is lying and that he cannot take her powers. The raven coughs up his heart for her to take. Winnet then heads into the forest and later collapses after wandering in the forest. A woman then takes her to a nearby village. The villages think that the sorcerer is mad, so Winnet conceals her past and her powers. She tries to assimilate into their culture but still sees herself as an outsider. Winnet hears about a beautiful city far away which no one from the village has ever been there. Winnet decides to go there despite the people telling her not to do so. Winnet finds a map with of the city and sees that the city is in the center of a river. Winnet decides to get a boat and leave for that city; even though she knows that she will not return from where she came from.
It is quite obvious that Winterson uses this fairytale to describe her own struggles in life. A closer look at the main character in the fairytale, Winnet Stonejar, shows that it is Jeanette Winterson’s own name spelt backwards. It is also quite obvious that the sorcerer represents Jeanette’s mother who makes her believe initially that she is her real parent. The fairytale also describes the struggles Winterson faces such as being ostracized and literally locked in a room for engaging in homosexual relationships. Jeanette like Winnet wanders and later ends up becoming a resident in the city. However, she still feels attached to her mother’s hometown and struggles to fit in. it is also very interesting how different the characters in the fairytale are in comparison to the people in her real life. For instance, Jeanette switches the genders of the people in the story. Her mother characterized by the sorcerer is a male. Also the person Winnet falls in love with is also a male. Winterson was most likely trying to make her struggle more general perhaps to reach a bigger consensus; in the sense that these struggles do not only happen to gays but also to heterosexuals as well or she might have also been trying to make the case that homosexuals are just like heterosexuals and all face the same struggles. The story of Winnet is really effective in the sense that its placement is close to the end of the book and gives the reader a nice summary and analysis of Jeanette’s life up to this point. There is nowhere in the book where she does this. She also uses it as a critique of her mother’s society; her church and recounts all the evils they did to her which makes her heart yearn for a better place. The Winnet fairytale also nicely ties in with the orange motif in the book.
Jeanette is always given an orange. It doesn’t matter what she does, whether good or bad. I think the orange is a symbol of the common belief that is popular in Jeanette’s world. It pervades her society so much that it is presented as the only option. Simply put, heterosexuality is the orange. It is the only fruit or lifestyle given to Jeanette in her society. The Winnet story ties in with this orange motif in that, in order to obtain a different fruit which is not orange. Or in order for Winnet (Jeanette) to pursue her alternative lifestyle, she had to leave her own people.
The story of Winnet is not a fractured fairytale because in fractured fairytales, the author puts a twist on already existing fairytales in order to make it funny. We do not see that objective inWinnet’s story. It is an original story that does not endeavor to put a new spin on any already existing one. The fairytale is not also presented in a way that appears funny.
The story of Winnet is a defining moment in the book it represents the point Winterson is able to break off the walls that had initially restricted her. It is the point that Jeannette begins to draft her own life independent from the influences of her mother. It also presents the reader many worthwhile points of contemplation.
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