Love And Sexuality In Eisner's 'Cookalein'

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Finally, the last chapter of Eisner's graphic novel deals with the "Cookalein" which refers to the practice of people from the tenements going upstate to vacation. During this tale, a family dynamic faces the test of the father cheating on the mother while the mother and two children go on vacation, as well as the children's budding sexuality. The other guests on vacation complicate this story. One devastating tale of love and lust between a young man and woman, both searching for a rich partner and the story of a young wife who cheats on her husband with one of the children, intertwine themselves in the narrative. The father, Sam, having an affair with a woman named Kathleen, presents one of the only relationships in the graphic novel that…show more content…
A young wife, Mrs. Minks, seduces their eldest child Willie. At only fifteen years old, this interaction clearly represents Willie's first sexual act, which becomes marred by the timely entrance of Mr. Minks. Mr. Minks strikes his wife, yet they proceed to perform a sexual act out of frame as the audience watches Willie spectate the pair. The idea of voyeurism also carries into his younger brother's portion of the story as, while lying in the same bed as a female cousin, Petey's cousin touches his genitalia and then she allows him to touch hers. Following the unexpected discovery that she does not also have a penis, the two go out to watch the "grow-ups doin' ditry things" (Eisner 167). They silently watch the rape of Rosie; their first introduction to sexuality also shrouded by violence. The inherent loss of innocence of these two boys culminates in Petey's alarmed expression as he says "Wowee!!" as he leaves the scene of the rape and Willie standing on the balcony in the second to last panel of the novel being told that he "is the man of the house now" (Eisner 172, 179). The loss of innocence through violence and sexuality made its way through all ages in the graphic novel, leaving Willie-meant to represent the author Will Eisner-to take in and deal with the aftermath in the final panel, shrouded in darkness and the background covered in thick black…show more content…
Though almost always appearing in violent and perverse ways, sexuality allows for the characters to navigate their lives. Frim, through the shaving of his beard and his love-less relationship with god and his girlfriend, manages to leave Dropsie Street, yet his untimely death and lack of fulfillment begs the question of the worth of this escape in the end. The cycle of violence when the characters fail to satisfy their promise of mobility comes through in the story of the street singer, as well as Sam and Fannie's relationship where, instead of violence, distance takes hold. Although Benny and Rosie achieve their goals of finding rich spouses, their relationships are marked with the same violence and distance as the rest that are based solely on economic gain. Finally, the two children experience adult situations that will shape the way they look at sexuality. For Willie, this experience becomes warped by a troubled relationship and Petey sees rape as the norm for sexual experiences. The role of sexuality as a replacement for monetary wealth and a vehicle to a better life causes the typical ideals of love, romance, and innocence to

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