After Jeanette is discovered having an affair with a second friend, a girl named Katy, her mother tells her she must leave the house—she is not welcome anymore in her childhood home. At this moment in the narrative, the story splits off into the tale of Winnet—a young girl who, wandering the forest, encounters a sorcerer who offers to adopt her in exchange for tremendous powers. After years in the sorcerer’s care, Winnet betrays him by falling in love, and the sorcerer tells Winnet she must either leave, or stay but be banished to a lifetime of caring for the village goats. A raven appears to Winnet and tells her that her life will be full of grief if she stays. While Winnet wonders what to do, the sorcerer—disguised as a mouse—sneaks into Winnet’s room and ties a thread around her coat button, which he can use at any time to tug her back to him.
The story of Winnet is a parable that symbolizes the story of Jeanette’s life. Winnet and Jeanette even rhyme. Winnet was adopted, just as Jeanette was, by someone who purportedly could give her powers—in Winnet’s case, magic, and in Jeanette’s case, the “power” of evangelism and salvation. When Jeanette and Winnet betrayed their “masters” they were cast out, but the thread tied around Winnet’s coat button symbolizes Jeanette’s mother’s ability to tug her back to her past at any moment.
Winnet Quotes in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
“Daughter, you have disgraced me,” said the sorcerer, and I have no more use for you. You must leave. Winnet could not ask for forgiveness when she was innocent, but she did ask to stay.
“If you stay, you will stay in the village and care for the goats. I leave you to make up your own mind.” He was gone. Winnet was about to burst into tears when she felt a light pecking at her shoulder. It was Abednego, the raven she loved.
“[If you leave] you won’t lose your power, you’ll [just] use it differently. Sorcerers can’t take their gifts back, ever.”
“And what if I stay?”
“You will find yourself destroyed by grief. All you know will be around you and at the same time far from you. Better to find a new place now.
Winnet sat silent at the edge of the fireplace. The raven, struck dumb, could not warn her that her father had crept in, in the shape of a mouse, and was tying an invisible thread around one of her buttons.
There are threads that help you find your way back, and there are threads that intend to bring you back. Mind turns to the pull, it’s hard to pull away. I’m always thinking of going back. When Lot’s wife looked over her shoulder, she turned into a pillar of salt. Pillars hold things up, and salt keeps things clean, but it’s a poor exchange for losing yourself. People do go back, but they don’t survive, because two realities are claiming them at the same time. Such things are too much. You can salt your heart, or kill your heart, or you can choose between the two realities.