Susan Minot’s short story, “Lust,” shares a tale of sexually pervading adolescent girl. The unnamed protagonist victimizes herself in fragmented recollections of sexual encounters with multiple partners. Debauchery down spirals her into a realm of self- languish. The narrator begins as a morally bankrupt adolescent and the text unravels a severely ambivalent sad teenage girl. The more of yourself that you passively give away the less of yourself you become.
The protagonist is not developed by physical features. She is created by her relationships with others. Her feelings and actions also allow the reader to dig deeper into what kind of person she is. As a dynamic character she undergoes inner conflict. Once she recognizes her conflict with impulsive sexual conduct she possesses the power of change.
At the beginning of the story she is emotionally vacant. When sharing she chose the objective style of storytelling. It was not the tradition style that bursts with details. With the minimal detail the narrator’s voice strengthened. Though her words are short it makes the readers anticipation grow. The quick to the point delivery gave the reader the general idea of her lifestyle.
She distances herself from experiences. The narrator inconsistently tells the story in first and second person. Separating herself from the actions takes the blame off her. Dissociation shows when she describes her feelings after sex. “You make out the dim shape of the windows and feel yourself become a cave, filled absolutely with air, or with a sadness that wouldn’t stop.” It may be possible that the narrator wants to feel nothing at all rather than sadness. Being empty with just air or with sadness is inevitable. Her hollowness engulfs all the regretted decisions.
She victimizes herself to her partners. All the acts are initiated by the guys. Every guy that she mentions has the upper hand. It is about their likes and dislikes. It is never what she wants; she only wishes to please them. “You wait till they come to you […] you’d do anything for them.” (282) She would do anything for them even be critiqued about her body appearance. When guys pursue her in a disrespectful manner she feels obligated to give them attention. She chooses to entertain them despite her knowledge of their intentions. She is overly dependent on males. She continues to self- victimize She does not realize that happiness is internal and to experience external happiness you have to be right within.
There is a constant reference of peer pressure. She wants so badly to belong. Upon the transition of a new school everyone would like to be accepted. She is only fifteen and expressing her rebellion. She parties with the kids from school and they get into delinquent activities. She smokes cigarettes and goes and gets drunk. There is sadness the seeps through her text. She does all this as a coping mechanism to block out the spurts of sadness.
With each guy there was a part of her that is lost. Male dominance is present. She compared a boy with multiple partners and a girl with multiple partners. The guy had a bright look and bloomed after every girl. He would proudly gloat about his stories and everyone would support it. There would be guys encouraging him to lure more girls for his endless stories. A girl is different, there is no shine. There is only regret. It once grew into a proud beautiful blossomed flower. Now after each boy the petals would be plucked. The flower left in sorrow hunched over surrounded with rotted petal. You were not yourself anymore. Her identity is lost. Her voice is lost. It is obsolete.
The narrator is a sympathetic character. The generation of these adolescent girls could very well identify with her. She evokes a little hope that there can be resurrected after disaster. Her actions are the reflection of an epic phase that will continue to be a struggle for generations to come. Though at first she takes no responsibility for her action she has realized that maybe she is the cause of her dissatisfying life. This story is a great coming of age example of arbitrary conquests and its outcome on teenage girls.
She puts the nonchalance attitude to the side and voices her thoughts. Towards the end of the story the paragraphs become emotionally synced and detailed. Now you know her thoughts and she feels used, tired, cheated. The reader is left without a denouement of satisfaction. The narrative is concluded with unsettling sentences of the disappearance of herself. There is only speculation that she resigns after the conscious discovery of her tragic emotional state.
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