Study Guide

Passion Sexuality

By Alice Munro

Sexuality

Grace always remembered what she was wearing on that night. A dark-blue ballerina skirt, a white blouse, through whose eyelet frills you could see the tops of her breasts. (22)

It's interesting that Grace remembers this, but other things—like her parking sessions with Maury—are hazy. We guess our own memory does a good job at reminding us of the moments we found to be most significant in our pasts—like <em>super </em>cute outfits. 

This was the thing that had not happened. In Maury's car, or out on the grass under the stars, she was willing. And Maury was ready, but not willing. (66) 

Maury and Grace's expectations of who the other person is might prevent them from having sex. Or maybe they were both just awkward and inexperienced. Or all of the above. 

</em>She believed that her show of eagerness must be leading to the pleasures she knew about…she felt it was up to Maury to take over. (66)

In this case it seems both Maury and Grace are kept from fulfilling their desires by gender expectations. The man is supposed to lead, and the woman is supposed to follow. But maybe it doesn't necessarily <em>need </em>to be that way. Either way, the discomfort between these two during their sexual encounters makes us think they might not be a match made in heaven.

</em>What she remembers is…hardly distinguishable from the idea, her fantasies at that time, of what sex should be like…an airy surrender, flesh nothing now but a stream of desire. (183)

This passage's tone suggests a kind of yearning for those fantasies from a younger age. Or maybe "yearning" is the wrong word. It's more of a, "Boy was I stupid to think that" kind of tone. Hey, we've all got to learn somehow. 

He picked up the hand that was not holding the Coke bottle, pressed the palm of it to his mouth, gave it a lick, and let it drop. (200)

This is such a strange and memorable action. How does it affect your reading of the story? Would your reading be different if Neil did something more benign, like lean over and kiss Grace on the cheek?