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‘Lust’ by Susan Minot creates and brings out the main character of the story in a unique manner. This short story by Minot has many of the elements throughout the story, for example her sexual escapades with different boys set the plot of the story but the main focus of the story is the theme. The theme, explains the painful ambivalence a young woman faces as she becomes part of the sexually active world during the late 1970s/early 80s which is when this topic was taboo for women the story’s title, ‘Lust,’ becomes a key word for exploring the psychological complexities of sexual desire.
The nameless narrator brings the reader throughout her years at a boarding school, as a promiscuous person and her sexual endeavors. In this story the young people drink often, smoke pot, and have sex with a casualness that would astound their parents. Minot writes this since she wants to show the psychological dangers of such liberation by giving a detailed look at the emotional harm that ensues when a young woman does not have a clear idea of what she can expect, ask for, or demand before she has sexual intercourse. During this time women were finally able to experiment and have more personal freedom, but with that can cause some downfalls. Throughout the story it seems like the narrator starts to show that she has some feeling of regret, sadness, and if sleeping with all those boys was worth it but isn’t willing to admit it, ‘You wonder how long you can keep it up. You begin to feel as if you’re showing through, like a bathroom window that only lets in grey light, the kind you can’t see out of.’ It shows that the narrator, knowing that being promiscuous and that sleeping around was a normal thing that did not worry her at all she however discloses her fears how this life style will impact her in the long run or even how it’s starting to impact her now. Especially with how Minot used the word ‘grey’ to describe the light that’ll be showing through is depressing, dull, and maybe that she’s dirty.
Minot showed that the main character wasn’t confident even though she showed a different and strong personality. She felt weak with the men she associated with and so she was always felt obligated to say yes to their sexual advances whenever they asked for it, even if she didn’t necessarily want it. The narrator states, ‘So, if you flirted, you had to be prepared to go through with it. Sleeping with someone was perfectly normal once you had done it. You didn’t really worry about it.’ This shows how easy it was for her to give in to sleeping with the guys just because a little bit of harmless flirting was done. Was the narrator almost trying to convince herself that sleeping with someone was perfectly normal if she didn’t really want to sleep with that person and that she shouldn’t worry about it and what other people may think? She has a hard time opening up her heart, so in the mean time she turns to sleeping with guys to try to fill what she can’t achieve. She represses her emotional vulnerability and her need for the secure mesh of emotional intimacy that accompanies the female sexual desire, but her repression can be maintained only for so long. It goes along with the theme since for most girls starting to experiment with sex and guys they tend to forget about themselves and give into sexual advances easily.
Learning yourself and seeing what your friends are starting to do is something girls might struggle with, not all, but most girls want to be doing what everyone else is doing and they’ll do that no matter the risk it may do to themselves.
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