As I was reading this book, the sexuality and gender roles really stood out to me because of how extreme, graphic, and unexpected they were. The couple of scenes that really captured my attention was the rape scene in the church and the weird relationship with the aunt. After our Tuesday class discussion, it all made a bit more sense. But I just had some thoughts on it.
On page 197-198 (the church rape scene), I found it to be extremely ironic that the rape takes place in the church, which is supposed to be a sacred, sanctioned place of shelter and refuge. But instead, it was Elvis’ nightmare, a place where he lost his innocence and where his sexuality was confused. The detail was horrifically graphic and disturbing as Abani describes the perpetrator and his actions towards Elvis. But before the rape occurred, Elvis and his friend were dry humping on the church floor, experimenting with their sexuality. So I think the irony also comes into play with the fact that Elvis’ first two experiences (both good and bad) were with the same sex. I guess my question is is Elvis gay? or is he just accustomed to having a sexual preference to males because that is all he has really known thus far?
But in contrast to this question of Elvis’ homosexuality, how then does his Aunt come into play in this story? Because their relationship is nothing of what an aunt/nephew family bond is supposed to be. In fact, it seems like his Aunt is constantly trying to seduce him because I believe she is completely aware of Elvis sneaking peeks at her undressing and desiring her body. Previous to Elvis’ rape and experimentation with his guy friend, his Aunt Felicia takes the liberty to “oil” Elvis up and down, all over his body. The book says that “she smiled when she saw him lick his lower lip” (125) and that Elvis couldn’t quit staring at her breasts which had “hardened through the thin fabric of her blouse” (125). This implies that she was somewhat sexually aroused by his facial expression of desire. And then she continues on to oil his whole naked body, including basically giving him a hand job. This goes against every bit of the natural family instinct, making this scene very strange and deeply disturbing.
So I guess my last question is, did Elvis really have a good chance at a normal sexual lifestyle? Did his aunt screw up his logical reasoning? Did experimenting with a boy lead to his rape by a man?