We hope 1C1S will inspire readers to participate with us again this year!
Discussion groups are scheduled at the following locations of the Boston Public Library:
Charlestown: October 6th, 6:30pm
Jamaica Plain: October 9th, 6:30pm
Brighton: October 15th, 11:15am
Honan-Allston: October 20th, 6:15pm
Honan-Allston: October 25th, 10:30am
Connolly: October 27th, 7pm
South Boston: November 3rd, 6pm
1._The story opens with Dolly and her son Bruce engaging in a nightly practice of watching Jeopardy! together. Do you have any daily rituals that you share with your family, friends, or loved ones that have persisted despite the passing years? How does that habit shape or reinforce your relationships with those individuals?
2._Dolly and Bruce call each other “dear” and “hon” in the privacy of their home (8). How do these nicknames establish the relationship(s) between Dolly and Bruce? How can taking on a nickname change how others perceive you and/or how you perceive yourself?
3._Barbara Jean becomes Dolly because her husband believes that her given name doesn’t “suit her” (9). Does changing your name change anything else about you (your identity, your personality, how you perceive yourself) or is it simply an aesthetic decision? Have you ever changed your name or preferred a nickname to your given name? If so, what precipitated that decision? If not, why do you feel your name “suits” you?
4._How does Dolly engage with Bruce’s affinity for trying on her Avon makeup testers as a child? She says that to her, it all “seemed harmless when Bruce was eight or nine” (10). Both Dolly and Bruce inherently understand that Tony, Dolly’s mill-worker husband, will not tolerate such a visible disavowal of traditional masculinity. Would Andrew, Bruce’s brother, accept Bruce’s cross-dressing? How would you react if you found out a close family member wished to wear clothing traditionally intended for a different gender?
5._Dolly blames her daughter-in-law for her granddaughter Zoe’s self-destructive behavior. Do you think her resentment of “the podiatrist” is justified? What do her internal comments (or lack thereof) reveal about her feelings toward Andrew’s parenting?
6._How would you characterize Zoe’s entrance into Dolly and Bruce’s insular home life? Have you ever become a new member of a family? Was it difficult to integrate into an established familial relationship? How so?
7._Dolly says that she “[doesn’t] mind” that Bruce enjoys wearing women’s clothing (13). Do you trust Dolly’s words? What is happening at this point in the story that might affect what Dolly says to Bruce? Can you find examples of Dolly’s potential (dis)comfort with Bruce’s cross-dressing later in the story?
8._In what ways is “Sublimation” a story about Dolly coming to terms with her increasing age and dependency on her family?
9._Consider the final paragraph of the story. Do you think that Dolly unconditionally accepts her children (and grandchild) for who they are, or do her final words suggest that Dolly’s age and experiences will not allow her to disclose her true opinions?
10._What does the title “Sublimation” mean to you at the end of the story? There are two main definitions to keep in mind:
a. Psychological: sublimation is the process of transforming socially unacceptable impulses into socially acceptable actions, potentially resulting in long-term habituation to socially normative behavior.
b. Scientific: when a solid changes directly into a gas, bypassing the liquid state (example: dry ice).
Write a short story (500-700 words) about coming to terms with an aspect of your own identity, be it growing up, growing older, or accepting yourself despite others’ lack of acceptance.
Submit your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 10, 2014. The winning story will receive a bag of BBF 2014 memorabilia, including a signed copy of “Sublimation”!
Learn more about the difficulties that LGBTQ individuals face every day from GLAAD and about inclusive language and tips on how to speak respectfully about LGBTQ issues from MAP
Read about what Massachusetts rehabilitation centers can offer patients, and if you or a loved one is struggling with any type of addiction please seek help from Recovery.org
Just for fun: how to become a Jeopardy! contestant