“From force of habit, I suppose, I held Fern in my arms – that is, without at first noticing it. Then my mind came back to her. Her eyes, unusually weird and open, held me. Held God. He flowed in as I’ve seen the countryside flow in. Seen men. I must have done something – what, I dont know, in the confusion of my emotion. She sprang up. Rushed some distance from me. Fell to her knees, and began swaying, swaying. Her body was tortured with something it could not let out. Like boiling sap it flooded arms and fingers till she shook them as if they burned her. It found her throat, and spattered inarticulately in plaintive, convulsive sounds, mingled with calls to Christ Jesus. And then she sang, brokenly. A Jewish cantor singing with a broken voice. A child’s voice, uncertain, or an old man’s. Dusk hid her; I could hear only her song. It seemed to me as though she were pounding her head in anguish upon the ground. I rushed to her. She fainted in my arms” (19).
I found this passage to be very intriguing. It marks a shift in Fern’s behavior. Previously, her behavior towards men was indifferent. Now, however, she seems to be having some profound reaction to the narrator. My opinion stems from Riley’s point on Thursday. The book says that she “became a virgin.” Riley argues that she is a sort of emotional virgin. She may have had sexual relations with many men, but she has never had an emotional experience with one. If we accept this idea, then this passage would indicate that Fern has finally has the emotional experience she has been lacking. Her convulsions and her “calls to Christ Jesus” are an intense reaction to the loss of her emotional virginity.