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Oranges And Sweet Sister Boy English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1361 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Traditionally, people use associations to shape their views and ideas because they need to refer to some deep-rooted associations, which they have shaped in the course of their development, to define concepts, including the most complicated ones. In this respect, people often have difficulties with the definition of the concept of gender, when they attempt to define the gender of a person, who is willing to change his or her biological gender, as is the case of one of the main characters of the short story “Oranges and Sweet Sister Boy” by Judy Ruiz. In fact, people have difficulties with developing clear definitions, when they deal with cases, when individuals fail to identify clearly their gender or when they are willing their gender. In this regard, Judy Ruiz attempts to show the evolution of the main character, the sister, who loves her brother and attempts to understand him but she cannot perceive him as her, as a woman, because she get used to perceive him as a man. In such a context, the author apparently fails to understand the full significance of associations people may have and develop in the course of their life that prevent them from changing their views or, in contrast, help them to change their views and shape new concepts, including the concept of the changed gender of the brother of the main character of “Oranges and Sweet Sister Boy”.

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In fact, the short story focuses on the complex relationship between the sister and the brother, who are close to each other and who are good friends and simply love each other but the brother have significant problems with the definition of his gender. He fails to associate himself with men, whereas his social environment fails to associate him with women. Hence, the major conflict of one of the main characters of the short story – the conflict between the self-identification of the brother, who associates himself with women, and the identification of the brother by his social environment, for people treat him as a man. In actuality, the brother turns to be in-between because he cannot be associated with either gender. In fact, the mother of the children is quite scornful in regard to the brother, whom she treats as “one of the dregs of humanity, our mother would have called her, the same mother who never brought fruit into the house except in cans” (Ruiz, 114). The narrator of the story, the sister, has substantial troubles with identification of her brother and association with either gender. She believes that the brother is a strange person, whose sex she cannot define and she grows tired of those talks about gender: “My brother called me and now he’s my sister, and I’m having trouble making sense out of my life right now, so would you mind not telling me any more stuff about sex” (Ruiz, 117). In such a way, the sister has troubles with her brother’s association as either man or woman.

On the other hand, the brother has similar problems in regard to his self-association:

“The first time I got caught in your clothes was when I was four years old and you were over at Sarah what’s-her-name’s babysitting. Dad beat me so hard I thought I was going to die. I really thought I was going to die. That was the day I made up my mind I would never get caught again. And I never or caught again.” My brother goes on to say he continued to go through my things until I was hospitalized. A mystery is solved. (Ruiz, 121).

Hence, the brother fails to understand what he is and he wants associated himself with women but for his environment he stays to be a man. In fact, he is a mystery even for his sister:

I try to make peace with myself. I try to understand his decision to alter himself. I try to think of him as her. I write his woman name, and I feel like I’m betraying myself. I try to be open-minded, but something in me shuts down. I think we humans are in big trouble, that many of us don’t really have a clue as to what acceptable human behavior is. Something in me says no to all this, that this surgery business is the ultimate betrayal of the self. And yet, I want my brother to be happy. (Ruiz, 145).

In such a context, the author, Judy Ruiz, apparently fails to build up clear associations in the main characters of the short story. In this respect, it is possible to refer to Goulish, Maxine Hong Kingston and Terry Tempest’s ideas, who help to defeat Ruiz’s doubts and help to build up a strong position against that Ruiz’s submit to the her struggle. In fact, the problem is that Ruiz views the brother one-sidedly. At this point, it is possible to refer to Goulish, who said, “No, we can understand everything different ways we understand.” In fact, this means that each person can change his or her views depending on his or her standpoint. What is meant here is the fact that Goulish develops the idea that the concept of gender can be built on the ground of associations and people can understand the gender on the basis of their associations. For instance, if the brother associates himself with women than his environment can change the view on his gender and treat him as a woman. Therefore, the sister would never have troubles with the definition of the gender of her brother, if she could view his gender from his standpoint. To put it in simple words, Goulish suggests viewing different concepts in different ways and they way people view certain concepts define how they understand this concept.

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Furthermore, Maxine Hong Kingston uses her association to make things up, which is about her aunt’s story. In this respect, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that people may have troubles with certain concepts but they can easily eliminate these troubles through associations. On extrapolating Kingston’s idea on “Oranges and Sweet Sister Boy” story, the main character would shape her mind in regard to her brother on the ground of associations. For instance, if she associated her brother with her female-friends or relatives, she would not have troubles with the definition of his gender and treating him as a woman. Or else, if the sister could found a similar case, she would develop a strong association with that case and again she would not have any troubles with the identification of her brother with either gender. In other words, Kingston suggests building up associations that facilitates the thinking process and defining even the most complex concepts.

Finally, it is possible to refer to Terry Tempest, who associates shard’s death lead an image of alive shark to people. In fact, Tempest develops the idea of Kingston that allows people to use associations to shape certain concepts and their views on important issues. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that people always have certain associations and their thinking is grounded on associations. Therefore, associations shape views and basic concepts people use in their regular life. In fact, on extrapolating the idea of Terry Tempest, it is possible to develop the clear view on the brother of the main character and to define his gender on the ground of association each individual develops for him- or herself.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the short story “Orange and Sweet Sister Boy” by Judy Ruiz reveals the failure of main characters and social environment of main characters to develop clear associations of the brother’s gender. In this regard, the author fails to understand the importance of associations, which may help main characters and their social environment to shape the clear and adequate view on the brother and to define him either as a man or a woman. In such a way, the development of certain associations would help the main character to solve the major dilemma she deals with throughout the short story. At this point, it is important to remember that human thinking is grounded on associations.


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