Policing One’s Behavior

Maria is an odd yet relatable person. She works at a book store and lives in New York like every other LGBTQIA+ identifying person does (I am kidding, but almost every book we have read had some scene or scenes that were set in New York so¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). However, the first scene that drew my attention is when Steph tells Maria that she slept with Kieran. Even though I, like Steph, expects Maria to react in some sort of way instead of “just being quiet [and] not even making a face,” Maria also “knows that there are things she’s supposed to be thinking and feeling: betrayal, anger, [and] sadness” (Binnie 8, 9). This acknowledgement of knowing how she is supposed to react versus her current state shows that Maria is very self-aware and knows how people view her. On the contrary, if Maria knows that the way she currently reacts to Maria sleeping with Kieran, then I would think she would change her behavior with all the internal policing. However, with the brunch ending with “Steph [] crying and Maria [] eating [] calmly” because Steph “fe[els] like Maria [does not] care[] at all,” I believe the policing coming from Steph was more of self-projection of her own feelings because although I do understand that being upset by cheating on a partner, but getting mad over someone else’s reaction seems a bit off for me, especially since Maria could have done much worse.

However, this policing is different from the policing I have seen from Rubyfruit Jungle as with Molly, the policing mostly came from other people rather than internally as with how her mother asks why “did[] [not] [Molly] look like [Cheryl who wears a dress] instead of roaming around the fields in torn pants and dirty tee shirts” (Brown 27). In addition, Molly then did not understood why her mother was saying those stuff to her, and with Maria, she approaches the policing as an adult and has an understanding of why people would guide her to “appropriate behavior.”

Questions:

  1. How come Maria does not follow through with her internal policing? For example, she knows that she is supposed to act remorseful when Steph tells Maria that she slept with Kieran but still looks like she does not give a damn.
  2. When a character speaks, there are no quotation marks around their words. Is there a purpose to this?
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2 thoughts on “Policing One’s Behavior

  1. It’s very interesting how you compared the policing that happened in Rubyfruit Jungle to the policing happening in Nevada. Both have a significant effect on the plot in their own way; in Rubyfruit, Molly fights against all of the policing that is done by the people around her whereas, in Nevada, everyone around Maria seems to attack the shell that Maria puts up to police herself.

    Another thing that stood out to me in your post that I wanted to address was the question of the importance of no quotation marks around any of the dialogue. I believe it is because the novel is written mostly as a stream of conscience, reflecting both the author’s manner of speaking and the way that Maria approaches life. Maria goes through life taking things as they come, only with a little internal analysis, and then quickly files them away. She does not normally think much about her situations or decisions unless she is made to (for instance, trying to decide whether or not to break up with her girlfriend).

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  2. I do agree that this form of inner policing is interesting considering she doesn’t act on it, it’s more of passing thoughts of what she should do. I think Maria’s inner policing but lack of action in regards to the inner policing is consistent with all her other behaviors and actions in life. Maria is always aware of what she “needs” to do, but always tries to get by with the bare minimum in all of her actions, be it her work at the book store or her investment in her relationships. This inability to act but knowing how she “should” act, highlights how Maria is emotionally disconnected and apathetic. It’s almost like the world is moving around Maria and she’s watching, taking notes, but not acting.

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