Sex has played a huge role in Desdemona’s development. From a very young age, Desdemona is somewhat ashamed of her sexuality. She has vivid memories of her mother’s enforcement of being pure. She was told it was necessary to be pure to have good silkworms, something very important to her Greek culture. She “examined the cocoon constellations for a sign of her own impurity” (22). It is apparent early on, that Desdemona associates shame and guilt with sex, and this feeling would be with her throughout her development.
We see in Desdemona’s development, that she does not have a normal love life. She falls in love with her brother Lefty, and struggles with her attraction to him. The law and their religion prohibit that they get married. Desdemona lives in a society that doesn’t talk openly about sexuality, and therefore she continues to associate guilt, shame, and secrecy with sex.
Although prohibited, Desdemona’s sexual attraction to her brother makes sense, considering her circumstances. She falls in love with her brother because she has just lost her parents. Lefty is her best friend and she feels safe with him. Since they are only a year apart she “wondered how she survived those first 12 months without him” (24). It seems somewhat natural that something would develop between the two of them because of the traumatic loss of their parents, especially when they were at a heightened stage of sexual development. However, they continue to battle with their decision to cross the line into incest, and distant themselves on their honeymoon. They are haunted by their decision, and thus have staged an entire act for themselves, pretending to have just met on their way to America.
Desdemona is terrified of having a child with a birth defect, and “had done everything she could to fulfill her promise of never having another child” (134). She is tormented by guilt for being with her brother, and yet feels a desire to please him sexually. Desdemona has another child and...