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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 91 | volume XVI | July-August, 2013



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 91July-August, 2013

Religious Satire in Oranges are not the only Fruit

p. 1
Chung Chin-Yi

Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are not the only Fruit, a semi-autobiographical portrayal of the author’s life, provides a biting critique of Christianity from someone who feels estranged from its laws, customs and rituals, i.e., Jeanette, the protagonist, a lesbian who feels oppressed by the patriarchy of Christianity. Raised in a fervently religious household with an eye on turning her into a missionary, this extreme zeal for religion is indeed what proves to be Jeanette’s downfall, as women begin admiring her for her biblical fervour and start getting sexually attracted to her, following which she has a string of affairs with the young women in church.
    To phrase this downfall in Pastor Finch’s terms, the minister who heads Jeanette’s church, “The best has become the worst.” (Winterson, 1985:16) Jeanette is deemed to have become filled with evil, a downfall from being extremely holy, because she has succumbed to her desire for women. Winterson is demonized from the moment she declares that she is a lesbian. The cruel inhumanity with which she is eventually excommunicated from the church is what she takes issue with.
    Indeed, Jeanette feels extremely bitter about the process because she feels that her authentic self has been suppressed. Jeannette strongly views marriage as an empty and meaningless institution. This feeling, of marriage being a sham, is derived largely from her observations of marriage in her own family. The rather passionless marriage of her adoptive parents seems a far cry from the unbridled passions she discovers in the arms of women from her church, who take to falling from her because of her extreme devoutness.
    The Christian religion is described on Winterson’s terms as a highly oppressive institution. She describes her mother as being more Old Testament than New Testament, in other words, her mother delights in seeing to the destruction of sinners without demonstrating the grace, forgiveness and love for sinners that Jesus brings about in the New Testament.
    She always prayed in exactly the same way. First of all she thanked God that she had lived to see another day, and then she thanked God for sparing the world another day. Then she spoke of her enemies, which was the nearest thing she had to a catechism.
    As soon as ‘Vengeance is mine saith the Lord’ boomed through the wall into the kitchen, I put the kettle on. The time it took to boil the water and brew the tea was just

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