Write a 6 page essay on Love in Red Azalea by Anchee Min and Stone Butch Bluesby Leslie Feinberg.
The authors patterned the two novels in this way, to intensify the difficult struggle that the two main characters had to go through, just to have a chance to freely define who they really are.
The farm where the Red Azalea’s lead character, Anchee Min worked left her feeling suffocated, which was why she wanted to try her luck in theater.
Moreover, the stigma of the Communist Revolution drove Min to feel more repressed, as the ideals of communism to dampen the individual’s desire for self-actualization for the benefit of the collectivist society.
Stone Butch Blues is set in upstate New York, during a time of political turmoil in the 1960s. The lead character, Jess, was constantly asked whether she was a girl or a boy, and was thus being forced to fit into a society that only tolerated masculine behavior for men, and feminine behavior for women.
The settings of the two novels both provided a backdrop by which tension could occur, since it was made clear on both novels that the two lead characters wanted to define themselves in settings where they were trapped – physically, politically, emotionally and sexually. The places, the times, the surrounding people, as well as the prevalent ideas and culture defined the repressive environment in which the two main characters lived in.
The settings and surroundings definitely took their toll on the psyche of the lead characters, and the authors used strong language to show how the stifling effects of the ideological suppression were to the main characters. Compared to Jess, Min kept more to herself, but the author portrayed the latter as having humorous and insulting images of the surrounding people that oppressed her. Jess, on the other hand, was a more active social rebel, in the sense that she showed everyone that she wanted to be her own person, despite the dictates of society.
Noticeably, Stone Butch Blues was written in the first person, such that the author did not have to use the pronouns “he” or “she” to refer to the novel’s main character. This, in itself, is a bold statement implied by the author through her narrative style, in the sense that she did not want her main character to be defined by stifling sexual conventions and norms.
Through the plot of both the novels, Min and Jess both had unique encounters that gave them glimpses of the life experiences that their respective surroundings had tried to hide from them. These experiences moved and invigorated them in very deep ways. These further roused their curiosities, as if to make them feel that the things that they had been longing for all their lives, actually do exist and are in fact in front of them. These encounters provided an opposition against the ennui and stigma that the respective settings provided.
For Min, she met Yan, who was a charismatic woman who happened to be affiliated with the revolutionary movement. Min developed a strong and deep friendship with Yan, as latter’s character provided warmth against the desolation that the former experienced.
Jess, on the other hand, was introduced to the thrilling world of lesbian bars – where strong butch women would fight for the admiration of their feminine lovers. Here, Jess finally fulfills her long-time yearning for love and companionship, while getting the chance to be the masculine female that she had always wanted to be.
These encounters both gave Min and Jess a window of escape from the stifling
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