Study Guide

The Interestings Sexuality and Sexual Identity

By Meg Wolitzer

Sexuality and Sexual Identity

Jacobson. She was excited to hear him call her that, though it was hardly what she'd imagine a boy might ever call her. (1.84)

Nothing like a familiar term/term of endearment to set the heart a-fluttering. While sexual identity is always somehow connected to belonging, for Jules, this might be more so than usual.

"They want you to behave like you have power, but also like you know they'd win the battle if it ever came down to it." (1.162)

Perhaps because she's so sexualized, Cathy possesses wisdom about the workings of men/teenage boys in her world: They want her to captivate them, and then make it clear she knows they're in charge.

Manny was a physical disaster now, chemically castrated—his young doctor had actually, cheerfully used that word—and almost nothing got him going anymore. (2.11)

Manny's identity is tied up with a shift in his sexual identity from being a fertile man to an infertile one.

[…] why was it that archness supposedly indicated flirting and sexual interest? Why didn't earnestness indicate this? Or melancholy? (4.52)

How people communicate sexual interest is part of their individual sexual identities.

But all he had meant was did she want to come over, and she hadn't known the correct, adult way to answer. (4.112)

Here we see uncertainty about sexual identity, and the idea that the one Jules is in possession of is somehow flawed or not "correct."

Jonah had known, roughly since first grade, that he liked boys […] but it wasn't until puberty that he allowed himself to recognize the meaning of that thinking. (6.72)

Our identities and the ways in which they intersect with our sexuality shifts over time, like we see here with Jonah.

"She never speaks. She just has all kinds of sex, and she lets people do things to her, insert things into her. It's disgusting and sexist. I swear, I'm going to devote my life to being a feminist." (7.111)

Ash talks about feminism here as though it's the opposite of what she saw in a very early porn film—and yet for all the ways in which she's arguing that this intense passivity is anti-feminist, she completely fails to pay Cathy the same respect.

Oh yes, she thought as she sat in her chair, that's me, Diaphragm Girl. She looked around at all the other women, and imagined that they thought she wasn't a virgin. (9.15)

Worst. Superhero. Name. Ever.

You could go with your best friend to this friendly sex toy store located in an anonymous office building, and stand together, silently shaking with laughter, both teenaged and fully grown all at once. (11.25).

Perhaps exploring who you are as a sexual being is more important in terms of coming of age than any particular sex act.

Usually, sexual attraction had an air of cloaked menace about it; that was part of the excitement. (12.19)

Does it have an air of cloaked menace because Jonah is afraid of overstimulation, or is this saying it about all sexual attraction? Over to you on this one, Shmoopers.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...