Comparing Relationships in Susan Minot's Lust and Coraghessan Boyle's Carnal Knowledge

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Comparing Relationships in Susan Minot's Lust and Coraghessan Boyle's Carnal Knowledge

"After the briskness of loving, loving stops"-Susan Minot
This quote from Minot summarizes the love affairs in her short story "Lust" and T. Coraghessan Boyle's short story "Carnal Knowledge." The protagonists in these stories go to great lengths to please their significant others hoping to find loving, fulfilling relationships. They make sacrifices and relinquish certain degrees of power to find happiness, only to discover that this happiness is temporary. Both authors use literary techniques to enhance these themes. The short stories "Lust" and "Carnal Knowledge" maintain that relationships that lack an honest, loving foundation
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Sex was "a relief at first until it became like sinking into a muck" (258).

An obvious power imbalance exists between the narrator and her boyfriends. The narrator always seems to be waiting for the boys; waiting for them to finish playing their sports, waiting "till they come to you" (259), waiting for them to make the first move, or "waiting for something--I guess for him to get back" (259). Yet the boys are rarely willing to wait for her to be ready. If she goes out on a date with a boy and he wants to engage in a sexual act, she feels like she must oblige. She feels like she does not have a choice in the matter and she must "do everything they want" (263). She feels this obligation for several reasons. She is afraid of being labeled a "tease" and being criticized for not following through when she flirts. She fears her boyfriends will become angry if she does not satisfy their sexual desires. Also, she believes that if she refuses him, she will seem snobbish and she does not to be one of "those girls who push away a boy's face as if she were made out of Ivory soap, as if she's that much greater than he is" (261). The narrator gives in every time, handing all the power over to the boy. She feels unable to control the situation and accepts this power imbalance. Her inability to voice her desires and wants prevents her from feeling truly happy. She cannot form an honest relationship based on true love

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