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Tales Of The City Critique

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Tales of the City is a novel that allows us to draw historical evidence from an interesting format. The characters from the book are useful in depicting the historical developments of their time. Characters such as Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, Anna Madrigal and Mary Ann Singleton allow for the opportunity to make assumptions about their sexual preferences and convictions. Their lives hold extreme importance since it represents a scenario of what sexuality meant during times those times. Although, our societies basic understanding of sexuality has altered since the turbid 1970's, this novel gives a coherent perspective that enables us to dissect one of the major shifts in our sexual history.

Mary Ann Singleton would help represent one of the transformations that women faced in the second half of the Twentieth Century. The battle over purity raged for many years. This 'war' in a sense, forced women to suppress their sexual urges and instead live a life of pure, gentle, and passionless life (IM). It is odd to consider the fact that the 'new' womanhood that began to form embodied in large part a new sexual expression (Lecture). Women were looking for the chance to, "Turn their backs on their mothers and become flappers (Lecture)." They became involved in a rebellion against this sheltered lifestyle; by seeking amusements, sexual experience, and searching for their new sexual image. Mary Ann greatly displays this schism. After moving to San Francisco, we see a young impressionable woman who still holds some of the beliefs of her 'mother.' Evidence can be drawn from the first few pages of the novel as Mary Ann looks through her senior yearbook, with Connie, and abruptly exclaims, "Rest in Peace (TOTC)." This sheltered ideal continues on to her journey through a local club titled 'Dance your Ass Off.' Connie is giving her hints on how to 'get laid' and Mary Ann actually takes offense to some of the basic and arguably normal happenings of the hip city. Yet, as the novel continues we can follow Mary Ann and her metamorphosis into the 'new' women. She is much more open to the idea of 'making love.' Her familial basis on purity has shifted into a greater understanding of what she seemingly wants and tries to achieve. Although she has significantly less sexual escapades as does Connie Bradshaw, her interests seems to vary in a wide array of men; old, young, married, single. By the end of the novel Mary Ann embodies much more of the 70's ideal on sex and self-understanding... she seemingly is a stronger, brighter, more assured women of the time.

Anna Madrigal was the proprietor of Mary Ann's apartment complex. Anna came across as a very motherly, sensitive, and caring individual. She truly embodied a "Leave it to Beaver," 1950's, content mother. Her efforts, relationships, and mystery gave her a strong feminine side-shockingly we learn throughout the novel by piecing the plot together that Anna is truly a transgender individual (Lecture). Although, cross-dressing has been around for centuries the idea of practicing the lifestyle of a 'berdache' has been very much looked down upon. Women who believed themselves to be caught in a male body were known to pass as men and some have been revered as great soldiers, diplomats and citizens. Although, once they were 'caught' usually a some sort of punishment would descend upon the 'perversion' that society seemed threaten by. Women and men have both been known to try to transcend gender lines and live the life as the sex that they truly believe they are, or at least feel most comfortable being. "She Even Chewed Tobacco" is a perfect example of women passing as men, yet Anna embodied a new ideal of transgender living. The public still seems uncomfortable with the situation, most people feel more comfortable around homosexual individuals then transgender. Even in the novel, Norman Williams was investigating Anna's conversion of sexes. Although, Anna was never exposed her overly- mother efforts are extremely representative of her transgender beliefs ( Anna should be revered as



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