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She is the novel's narrator, picking up the story at around 7 years of age and continuing on until somewhere in her late teens or early twenties. She is raised among a group of evangelical Christians and believes in God, however, is at odds with the church's ideas and representation of religion, manifesting itself in made up stories. This conflict is pushed further with her relationships with other girls, which neither the church nor her mother endorses. Eventually, the strained relationship between Jeanette and the community she has grown up in causes her to leave the town for a job elsewhere. The only problem is that she is still connected with her mother and returns home by the end of the book.
Jeanette's mother is a fundamentalist Christian woman who adopted Jeanette to raise a servant of God through a sexless manner. She is very controlling, forcing the household to run on her schedule, as well as hypocritical, condemning their neighbors as well as other unsaved souls for drinking but keeps a wine glass for "medicinal purposes". Occasionally she appears to change, but it is undermined by her other actions.
Elsie Norris is an upbeat, energetic, elderly woman who is a part of the church and becomes very dear to the main character, Jeanette. She is genuinely religious and serves to show Jeanette that it is possible to be a part of the church and not be confined to its thinking and ideology.
Miss Jewsbury is an isolated character amongst the church as a character that actively hides her sexuality from them. She acts as an opposite role model to Elsie, as a character that, in staying with the church, does not allow herself to be her true self, instead, remaining on the outskirts of her community.
Melanie is Jeanette's first lover, who she met at a fish stand. She is described to be sweet and not very intelligent. However, it is her docility that ends her and Jeanette's relationship, as the church learns of their relationship and Melanie immediately repents her behavior and is forced to leave the town. When she returns, she is described as being "serene to the point of being bovine".
Katy is Jeanette's second lover, one who is much more open and confident with her affections and intentions. She helps Jeanette feel confident about her sexuality and the connection it has with her religion. Unfortunately, it is their confidence that ultimately reveals them to the church community.
Jeanette's father plays an extremely minimal role within the novel. He does not have sex with Jeanette's mother. His absence, in fact, is the most important part about him is that he doesn't do much within the household.
Mrs. White is a religious member of the church, appearing to be very pure. Even when Jeanette's demon tells her about the different types of demons people have, it says that Mrs. White's is "hardly a demon at all". This, however, is at odds with her usage of the wine glass to eavesdrop on the neighbors fornicating.
Ida is one of the lesbians Jeanette encounters in her early life. She is unaffiliated with the church and shows Jeanette a life without the church's influence, even if it is impossible for Jeanette herself, as she had been raised in the Christian society.
Pastor Spratt had been the one to convert Jeanette's mother. While he doesn't act much in the narrative, whenever he does, it is often in an attempt to force Jeanette to repent from her ways.
Pierre is Jeanette's mother's ex-lover. Often, however, his name and story of meeting Jeanette's mother is related to sin and quick romance.
Pastor Finch is a visiting minister who passionately gave a sermon about the dangers of seven and demons to a younger Jeanette.
Owns a shop for killing vermin. Her name references Noah's Ark and shows once again the hypocrisy of the church and its society.
May is a member of the church. Jeanette calls her "Auntie May"
Mrs. Rothwell is a member of the church as well and is nearly deaf, mostly used as a comic character who misjudges moments to speak due to her lack of hearing.
She is a member of church who is called "Auntie Alice" by Jeanette
Mrs. Vole is the head of Jeanette's school and is concerned about her fascination with religion and God.
Mrs. Virtue is Jeanette's sewing teacher who doesn't like her work.
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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.