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“Tickets Please”, “Hands”, and “My Oedipus Complex”

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 879
  • Category: War

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When considering the content of the three short stories “Tickets Please”, “Hands”, and “My Oedipus Complex”, it is evident that the main conflict falls into the sexual category. Sexual conflict plays a major role in analyzing the situations in the three stories as well as in determining the meaning of the language. Although the examples of sexual conflict may not be directly implied in some of the stories, indirect allusions to such conflicts throughout the stories make it easier for the reader to recognize them.

One of the unsurpassed examples of sexual conflict can be reflected in the story “Tickets Please”, by D. H. Lawrence. Set during the time of World War I, this story explores the situation of women in the tram system, which, because the men are away fighting in the war, is entirely conducted by girls. One man, however, stays behind for an unknown reason. His name is John Thomas and he is the talk of the town.

There is considerable scandal about John Thomas in half a dozen villages. He flirts with the girl conductors in the morning, and walks out with them in the dark night, when they leave their tram-car at the depot. Of course, the girls quit the service frequently. Then he flirts with the newcomer: always providing she is sufficiently attractive, and that she will consent to walk (509, Lawrence).

Annie, the protagonist, had managed to keep away from him for many months, but she eventually fell for his charm. As there relationship progressed, Annie began to take an “intelligent interest” in him. As soon as he became aware that his relationship with Annie was becoming more serious, he left her. Desperate to seek vengeance, Annie convinced the other girls, possibly the ones who had also “fallen” for him at some point, to pay back with equal harm. So they attacked him violently and John Thomas was forced to leave with humility dripping from his pathetic and distorted face.

The author mentions the frequent “quitting” of the service by the girls to suggest their inability to work after they had been impregnated as a result of sexual relations with John Thomas. Another example of sexual conflict in this story is related to the way Annie and the girls decided to teach John a lesson. By beating him, they had taken away his dignity just as he had taken away theirs by hurting their feelings.

The type of sexual conflict involved in the story “Hands”, by Sherwood Anderson, is very different from the one presented in “Tickets Please”. This story is about a man named Wing Biddlebaum, who, after moving to Winesburg, Ohio, has lived alone for twenty years. The story goes back in time to explain why he had to change his name from Adolph Myers to Biddlebaum and live a life of disguise. As a schoolmaster, he was driven out of Pennsylvania town by a mob of angry men who blamed him for “touching” their children in a inappropriate ways. The author compares Biddlebaum to “one of those rare, little-understood men who rule by a power so gentle that it passes as a lovable weakness. In their feeling for the boys under their charge such men are not unlike the finer sort of women in their love of men (31, Anderson)”. The sexual conflict in this story is presented through the behavior of a homosexual man, whose hands become uncontrollable when he feels the need to express his feelings.

Last but not least, sexual conflict also plays an important role in the story “My Oedipus Complex”, by Frank O’ Conner. In this story, the author presents views through young Larry’s mind when he subconsciously develops feelings for his mother. When his father returns home from war, Larry is resentful of losing his mother’s undivided attention, and finds himself in a constant struggle to win back her affections. He feels as if a stranger has just interrupted his relationship with his mother. Larry’s jealousy and hatred for his father becomes more and more intense as he notices a sudden shift of attitude that his mother has once there are two men in the house. “Mummy…do you think if I prayed hard God would send Daddy back to the war? (O’ Conner) “. The author makes several humorous indications, just like this one, in order to emphasize Larry’s wish for the absence of his father through the reversion back or the creation of another war.

Though Larry is not aware of his sexual feelings, his subconscious mind dictates his actions. However, the competition between father and son declines when Sonny, the new member of the family, arrives. When Larry wakes up one day to find his father beside him in bed, he realizes that Sonny, that “poisonous pup”, had surpassed them both, and was now winning the “race”.

After looking at the different examples of sexual conflict, it can be concluded that it plays a key role in the overall development of each story. In the story “Tickets Please”, the conflict revolves around opposite sexes. In the story “hands”, the conflict is related to homosexuality. And finally, in the story “My Oedipus Complex”, the conflict is reflected in little Larry’s feelings for his mother.

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