Reading Response: Other Voices, Other Rooms
Capote's Other Voices, Other Rooms is an exploration into role reversal, gender definitions, and the risk involved in sexuality and love against the harsh contrast of southern ideals. The novel acts as Capote's catharsis in developing his younger self, in the character of Joel Knox, innocent and self-exploring, as he transforms into his older, liberated self in the character of Randolph who truly is the voice carrying the books message. However, to reach his destination of Randolph, Joel must begin his journey with Idabel Tompkins.
Joel sees Idabel soon after entering Noon City, and is so mesmerized with her boyish antics that he is oblivious to the man offering him a nickle to capture her, something Joel would not be capable of anyway. She notices him later as well, watching Joel in the soda shop from the doorway and asking about him in her”boy-husky” voice. Immediately, Joel is intrigued on the verge of infatuation and most often referencing her boyish attributes in the same breath. On the way to the Landing, his new home, he finds Idabel on the road and picks her out from her sister as, “[t]he other moved as jerky and quick as a boy” (p31).
The pair become friends and later during a fishing trip, Joel learns not only the risks invilved in loving someone but also Idabel's evaluation of what they are together.. When she tells him to undress so they can swim naked Joel sheepishly replied, “But you're a girl” (p131) Idabel, frustrated, replies, “What you've got in your britches is no news to me, and no concern of mine....I never think like I'm a girl; you've got to remember that, or we can't never be friends” later on proclaiming, “I want so much to be a boy” (p132). During the same trip, Joel felt he needed to put his arms around Idabel as, “the only means of expressing all he felt” he kisses her cheek and in return she becomes so mad that he pulls his hair and fights him. Joel learns the danger of...
Cited: Capote, Truman. Other Voices, Other Rooms. New York: Vintage, 1994. Print.
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