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MonkeyNotes-Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
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Chapter 2: Exodus

The second chapter begins with a dialogue between Jeanette and her mother on the topic of her schooling. Jeanette asks her mother why she wants her to go to school. Her mother does not really want her to go, but if she does not, her mother will go to prison. Jeanette responds with a statement that St. Paul repeatedly went to prison and God let him out. Her mother says that although she understands this, the community does not.

Her mother turns on the radio and there is a program about the family life of snails. She is scandalized, screaming to Jeanette that the Devil is trying to introduce evolution into her house. Jeanette does not think her mother has accurately interpreted the meaning of the program.

Before her first day of school, Jeanette thinks back to a time when she had lost her hearing for three months without anyone noticing. When people finally realized she could not hear, they said she was in a state of rapture. Many agreed, especially since Jeanette was at the symbolic age of seven.

Numbers are significant throughout the book. They are especially important to Elsie Norris. "Testifying Elsie," as she is called, is always testifying in church how the Lord has done something for her, such as take away a bout of colic. She also prays for two hours each day, at seven a.m. and seven p.m. She determines what part of the Bible she will read by throwing "religious" dice. Elsie has a collage of Noah's ark that Jeanette plays with whenever she visits. Jeanette always drowns the detachable Brillo-pad chimpanzee.


On the night Jeanette realizes that she cannot hear, she writes a note to her mother to which she pays no attention. Jeanette decides there is nothing else she can do, so she goes upstairs and eats an orange. When she wakes up in the morning, her mother has already gone to the hospital to visit Auntie Betty. She goes for a walk and meets Mrs. Jewsbury, whom Mrs. White has said is not holy. She writes a short note to Mrs. Jewsbury saying that she cannot hear, and Mrs. Jewsbury is horrified. She takes Jeanette to the hospital and tries to get Jeanette's mother to understand what is wrong with her daughter. Finally, she yells, "This child's not full of the Spirit . . . she's deaf." This information gets her mother's attention. She has the doctor examine her and discovers that she really is deaf and needs an operation. He checks her into the hospital. Before her mother goes home to retrieve Jeanette's things, she gives Jeanette an orange, which calms her down. When her mother returns, she is carrying a big bag of oranges for her daughter to eat while in the hospital. Jeanette's operation is to be on the following day. Her mother unthinkingly tells her that more people die from anesthetic than from water-skiing. She adds that if the Lord pulls her through the operation, then it means that he has a special plan for her. Jeanette wants to live. The next thing she remembers is someone saying "Jelly, Jeanette," and she thinks she is in heaven. The doctor tells her she is not; she is just recovering from surgery. Her mother does not come to visit because she is waiting for the plumber, but Elsie comes to the hospital. In fact, she visits her every day. Towards the end of Jeanette's stay in the hospital, Jeanette's mother is involved with planning the Christmas play; since she is so busy, she just sends her husband to the hospital with a note for her daughter and a few oranges. Jeanette comments that "oranges aren't the only fruit."

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