After studying the term Bildungsroman, I have drawn the conclusion that the novel Oranges are not the Only Fruit would fall directly underneath this genre of literature. Bildungsroman is defined as "a novel of formation" or "a novel of someone's growth from childhood to maturity." (Lynch) In this "formation," there are a few key elements that must be present for a novel to fall under this specific genre. To begin, one of the first criteria is that the story must be autobiographically based. (Birk) We know that this is true when we meet the protagonist, Jeanette, of the story. The most obvious evidence of this is that the author named the protagonist after herself: Jeanette. She also gave them some of the same character traits and a similar background. They both were from a strictly, religious family who sheltered them, both were attracted to women, to name a few. Another characteristic that puts pieces of literature under the genre of bildungsroman is that the protagonist of the story has, more times than not, experienced some kind of loss of one or both of their parents. (Birk) I do not interpret this loss as meaning specifically death. If it did, this aspect of bildungsroman would not apply, for Jeanette's father is living and well. Therefore, I think that this loss can signify an almost nonexistent relationship between one or both of the parents. We know that Jeanette has a father, because we are told that he is a factory worker who leaves for work at five in the morning. We also find out that he and his wife do not experience sexual intimacy and that he plays no role in governing the household. In addition, the story must display an education to the main character. (Birk) We learn of a greater education in the second chapter where Jeanette is forced to attend school. Through her exposure to the new world that she is now apart of she begins to have her own thoughts and desires. She is suddenly introduced to lesbianism, and...
Cited: Birk, Rachel. The English Bildungsroman. http://www.umd.umich.edu/casl/hum/eng/classes/434/geweb/ENGLBILD.htm. 24 Feb. 2006.
Lynch, Jack. Bildungsroman. http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Terms/bildungsroman.html. 24 Feb. 2006.
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