How we cite our quotes:
He--for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it--was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. (1.1)
The first sentence of the novel clearly shows a direct action – "…was in the act of…" is quite explicit. This follows the traditional method of capturing a subject’s identity in a biography.
Orlando's fathers had ridden in fields of asphodel, and stony fields, and fields watered by strange rivers, and they had struck many heads of many colours off many shoulders, and brought them back to hang from the rafters. So too would Orlando, he vowed. But since he was sixteen only, and too young to ride with them in Africa or France, he would steal away from his mother and the peacocks in the garden and go to his attic room and there lunge and plunge and slice the air with his blade. (1.1 – 1.2)
Young Orlando longs to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors and slay foreigners. His life turns out rather differently. The Orlando at the end of the novel is a married woman with a successful career in poetry. What changed after this passage?
The long, curled hair, the dark head bent so reverently, so innocently before her, implied a pair of the finest legs that a young nobleman has ever stood upright upon; and violet eyes; and a heart of gold; and loyalty and manly charm. (1.11)
Orlando’s identity can be inferred from his physical appearance.