Love and Marriage, Duty or Comfort?

Picture used is from the CarriageWorks website

James Tiptree and Alice Eleanor Jones used their imaginations to create societies with drastically different ideologies on sex and relationships.   Tiptree’s 1972 story “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side”, entertained the idea of intimate relationships between aliens and humans.  Jones’s story “Created He Them” was written seventeen years prior to Tiptree’s and allowes the reader to peak into the lives of an unhappy married couple with certain responsibilities and an uncertain future.  Both texts specified the reason for sex and relationship within each social order.  However, this is precisely where the commonality between sex and intimate relationships ends for these two texts.

Tiptree used the voice of the mysterious stranger to express some major concerns humans on earth faced.  One of which he grazed over early in the story and mounted to an enlightening climax towards the end.  As the reporter probes the stranger for more and more information regarding foreign life outside of earth, the stranger states “Go home….  Go home and make babies.  While you still can.”  (161)  The stranger does not specify why this matters initially, but by page 166 the problem is clear.  “I’d trade – correction, I have traded – everything Earth offered me for just that chance.  To see them.  To speak to them.  Once in a while to touch one.  Once in a great while to find one low enough, perverted enough to want to touch me.” 

This mysterious stranger was afforded the luxury of choice.  He could choose to live on earth or outside of its realm.  He could choose to date humans or another race of beings.  This made me wonder; what would Ann from Jones’s story do with such choices?  Her world was absent of any worthwhile choice.  Ann says, “I cannot kill you, Henry, or myself.  I cannot even wish us dead.  In this desolate, dying, bombed-out world,… with its limping economy and its arrogant Center in the country that takes our children – children like ours; the others it destroys – we have to live, and we have to live together….  we are among the tiny percentage of the people in this world who can have normal children.  We hate each other, but we breed true.”  (75)

Ann’s story has a concept of relationship and responsibility drastically different from that related in Tiptree’s story.  The mysterious stranger became so obsessed and engrossed in alien culture that he was unaware of the rate of human reproduction on earth.  He even had the pleasure of taking an alien wife, no wait, she wasn’t an alien but she was dressed like one; right?  Either way he had options that were out of this world, literally.  The sad truth is neither character seems satisfied with their lives, but at least the stranger gets to choose what type of life that is.  What’s more, he chose his companion based on the mutual desires they had for one another, in his words  “We give each other … comfort” (167), what Ann wouldn’t do for that sort of comfort.  We can only imagine.

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3 Comments on “Love and Marriage, Duty or Comfort?”

  1. hj214 Says:

    That was an interesting connection between the two texts. Something i think you could do to expand your blog is to investigate aspects of alienation in the characters lives. Especially in As I Awoke, there was certainly a physical and emotional disconnect between the red haired man and human beings as he was chasing down the iconic Alien beings. And i’m wondering if you could continue to draw comparisons between the two texts using the lens of Alienation vs. Authenticity. I agree with you that both of these texts use sex to convey certain messages; I also wonder if we could establish a link of alienation, and if so, is the author trying to convey something.

    • loved82press Says:

      I agree with you suggestions; however we only had 300-500 words allotted for the blog. I considered your points when constructing it but used the space I had to make my point. Expanding the blog was not an option but your input is appreciated. Maybe I can incorporate some of your ideas when we are given the option to edit.

  2. trufinme Says:

    I like the point that you brought up about the character in Tiptree’s story having the luxury of choice and Ann of Jones’s story not having that luxury. I too wonder what she would do with it. It also makes me think do we as women even have the luxury of choice now, today? Yes we have the choice to go to school if we please and pick the person that we want to marry but I almost feel like that’s it. Even though times have changed and we are still the women that are expected to ultimately take care of the children and have dinner ready. So I wonder is it that we do or don’t have the choice to be different or do we just have certain duties and there is nothing that we can do about it. I find myself becoming a feminist since I’ve started this class.

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