• First Language: English

  • Subjects:  Women’s Studies

  • Journal Section: Research Article

  • Authors: Dilek ÖZTÜRK YAĞCI

  • Dates: December 15, 2022

This study focuses on the appropriation of the Bildungsroman genre in Jeanette Winterson’s first book Oranges are Not the Only Fruit (1985), a novel which is often referred to as the fictionalization of the author’s upbringing. The novel traces the coming out story of the lesbian protagonist Jeanette who struggles to live in a fundamentalist evangelical community that fails to embrace Jeanette’s sexual orientation and denounces it as “unnatural passions.” This conflict on (sexual)identity between the protagonist and society, the main feature of the traditional Bildungsroman genre, is represented as the core element of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. In the novel, strictly religious public space constantly works towards constructing Jeanette’s identity defining the limits of normal and natural for her. However, Jeanette tries to deconstruct and reconstruct that given identity and attain subjectivity by discovering her sexuality and creating a homespace for herself amidst possibilities. Like Jeanette who rejects heteronormativity and rewrites her own story, Winterson challenges the normativity of Bildung narratives and pushes the boundaries of the Bildungsroman for redefinition. For all these reasons, drawing on Jeanette’s Becoming within the dynamics of her social space, this study aims at discussing Jeanette Winterson’s subversion of the classical male-centred narratives of self-development and her revision of the Bildungsroman within a feminist framework in Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.

Jeanette Winterson, bildungsroman, coming of age, gender, lesbian writing