This blog is a combination of information compiled as an element of a seminar course revolving around Virginia Woolf.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A look at lesbians in Slater's Pins Have No Points

After reading the collection of middle short stories, one can see huge transformations in Woolf’s writing style. While the beginning short stories are less complex and possibly a little easier to understand, the middle short stories throw the reader for a literary loop (or at least they did me anyway). Of the four, the one story I found most intriguing was “Moments of Being: Slater’s Pins Have No Points.” While the body of the story was somewhat manageable, the last paragraph is an accurate depiction of the way Woolf can completely baffle the reader to leave them wanting more. All of a sudden Julia and Fanny kiss? Needless to say, that surprised me a little.

Instead of throwing the story aside in my frustration to decipher what was actually happening, I begin to think of this paragraph as the moment in the text where Fanny finally pinpoints (hint hint: this could be how the title relates to the work) Julia’s enjoyment. Through the body of the work, Fanny speculates regarding Julia’s happiness and shows the reader an existence between Julia’s past and present. She wonders whether Julia is a lonely women for she seems that way, but then also discusses Julia’s strength as a strong woman for ‘she had not sacrificed her independence.’ Through Fanny’s descriptions, we as readers have NO IDEA if Julia is a happy or unhappy person, but in the last moment of the text it all seems to come together as a coherent explanation.

In the last paragraph, Woolf states, “Julie possessed it.” To me, this statement sums up the entire argument within the story. Julia finally has a chance to possess and have control over something in her life; therefore, the kiss can be seen as Julia’s only sense of happiness. Fanny seems to be the only thing that Julia can possess and take control of so kissing Fanny is seen as Julia’s fantasy because it leads to happiness. This instance along with the use of the word queerly and breast in the next sentence gives the reader the perception of a female love existence. Fanny and Julia may have lesbian encounters to show Woolf’s embrace of the feminine identity.

Additionally, this is the moment during which Fanny finally locates the pin and is able to pin it onto either herself or Miss Craye’s dress (Woolf leaves that detail a little ambiguous). Finding the pin and putting it into its correct position may serve as a reference to the correct positions of both Julia and Fanny in this moment. The pinning of the flower symbolizes closure; therefore, the kiss between the two women can be seen as closure in discovering Julia’s existence. Julia likes women rather than men thus her life is not a series of lonely encounters, but rather a rewarding journey of discovering herself and what she really wants out of life. Therefore, Julia is strong for adhering to her lesbian emotions rather than conforming to the strict standards of marriage to a man.

If thinking of this encounter as one of lesbian happiness, then one can also explain the title of the short story: “Slater’s pins have no points.” If thinking of the title in terms of gender identities, one automatically associates a point with a male’s reproductive part, but if the pins have no points then Woolf may be dubbing the male as inadequate or unnecessary. If a pin has no point then it is not actually a pin and does not actually have any use. I’m a little unsure about what the Slater part is about but those are just some of the immediate thoughts I had concerning the title and the last paragraph of the story.

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