Kiss amongst so many well-developed boy-men…” (ll. 9-11).

Kiss and Tell is written by John Sam Jones, who is a Welsh author known for being a homosexual in a country where Christianity is the practiced religion. The genre is fictional short story and the themes of this story are homosexuality and insecurity.The story follows two characters, a student and a teacher (Seimon and Dylan), and concerns how being gay affects their lives. In this essay, I will focus on the characterization, themes and message and the importance of fitting in. The main characters in this short story by Jones are Seimon Gwyn and Dylan Roberts (also known as Mr Roberts). The other characters we hear about in the textsuch as Seimon’s classmates and the other teachers have smaller roles and their function is to show us aspects of the social setting. Seimon appears to be a fourteen-year-old boy (l. 9) who is undersized, compared to his peers: “Most of his classmates had started to muscle-up, which made rugby more of a man’s game; it made the showers afterwards a real embarrassment too. Naked and puny amongst so many well-developed boy-men…” (ll. 9-11). The reason why the author chose to do this could be that he was referring to himself when he was younger and went to school. He might have gone through the same thing. Furthermore, Seimon is presented as a young boy who is starting to discover his sexuality. He is trying to fit in but cannot manage to do so since he is attracted to men. He seems quite frustrated due to his underdevelopment compared to his classmates. This has probably something to do with him being lonely and isolated(seen in l. 13-16). Actually, Jones has some similarities with Seimon. He realised that he was a homosexual at the age of 11 or 12 and it was not easy, especially in the 60’s. He also tried to fit in by being different, I quote:  Through my adolescence I yearned to be different, to be “normal”. All this yearning was hidden; homosexuality caused me such feelings of shame and guilt that I became intensely secretive. This means that the author is trying to show us his own mentality when he was a young boy through the main character (Seimon). Seimon’s frustrations about being a “bullied loner” (l. 104) and Shân’s friendly approach makes him open up and speak to her about his sexual imaginations. However, Seimon does not presents them as fantasies but as realities. This showsthat he is trying to make himself feel better because of his frustrations and to show off in front of Shân, who also had a crush on Dylan. The lies makes him feel important and noticed, but he ignores or forget the possible consequences of sayingthat he has an affair with his Mr Roberts. All in all, Seimon comes out as a teenager who is lonely and finds it hard to fit in at school because, when he discovers his sexuality, he recognises that he is attracted to men. Also, feeling irrelevant among his peers, he invents an affair with Dylanwhom he likes, because he wants to feel important. When it comes to Dylan (Mr Roberts), he is introduced as a “handsome and sexy” (l. 56) teacher of three languages: “Welsh, French and German” (l. 117). He movedfrom Cardiff, the capital of Wales, to a little town for his job, and he is homosexual. As Dylan moves to the town, he chooses to hide the fact that he is attracted to men, although in Cardiff he had been proud and open about being gay: “He pulled over before reaching the school to peel it off; he couldn’t see himself being out-and-proud in North Wales like he’d been in the capital.” (l. 31-33). This indicates that he has prejudices about small towns/communities, and assumes that people are more closed-minded. However, when he finds out that most of his colleagues accept gay relationships, he chooses to be open about his own sexual orientation: “Over the Christmas holidays, Dylan considered these revelations and made a new year’s resolution to come out at school.” (l. 49-50) Later, when Dylan find out that he is accused of having an affair with a student, he is shocked and does not know how to react: “Dylan was suddenly choking on the room’s stuffiness and the abhorrence of the allegation against him.” (l. 135-136); “Dylan’s complexion turned the colour of cheap household candles and his mouth seemed to fill with dry, gritty sand. There were questions he wanted to ask, but his usual fluency with language and lucidity of thought were shunted…” (l. 140-142). The fact that Dylan memorises “Seimon, smiling” (l. 142-143) and that he also smiled back at him in class (l. 21-22) might indicate that Dylan is also attracted to Seimon. However, Dylan might be aware of Seimon’s interest in him only after being accused of having a relatinship with him, and he probably was just being nice to him in class. The theme of sexuality is seen through most of the short story and the characters. First, the story begins with a presentation of young teenage students who have already begun to explore their sexuality, perhaps prematurely: …Jane Jones, who’d got breasts that were the Promised Land of boys’ dirty talk, almost always had love bites on her neck, and Shân Jenkins boasted about going to the nightclub (…) There was even a rumour that Shân was on the pill. (ll. 3-8) Furthermore, the story mainly follows Seimon’s sexual orientation and self-discovery of sexuality. The story maps his fantasies about Mr Roberts, from normal”reveries” (l. 21) to precise “sexual fantasies” (l. 77). However, because he feels isolated among his peers and finds it hard to adapt, he reacts carelessly and changeshis fantasies to reality. Seimon claims in front of a Shân that he is having an affair with Dylan because it gives him a feeling of being noticed. Additionally, the story shows the attitude of adults concerning sexual orientationand sexuality. Mr Roberts, who is homosexual, prefers to keep it private when he moves to the new small town and the new school. However, after finding out that the colleagues are pretty accepting of gay people, he chooses to come out. All in all, the story shows that even though modern attitudes to sexual orientationand sexuality are more tolerant and open than before, there are still limits to this tolerance. Furthermore, it also shows that sexuality remains a delicate issue for teenagers, often causing frustrations. The message of the author is that sexuality is a challenging thing for teenagers and that sexual orientation still is a delicate issue in society, even though it is formally accepted. As for the theme of fitting in, it is explored at two levels in the story—fitting in among adult peers and fitting in among teenage peers. The teacher, Dylan Roberts, illustrates the type of compromises grownups sometimes make to fit in. As a new teacher at a new city, in a new school, He decides to hide the fact that he is attracted to men, and the reason why he does it is because he wants to fit in. It is only when Dylan discovers that being homosexual is not a problem among teachers, that he chooses to be open about his sexual orientation. On the other hand, when talking about fitting in among teenage peers it is mainlyexplored through the main character, Seimon. Seimon shows how teens who do not fit in often feel lonely and excluded. He is not interested in girls like most of the boys in his school, and he is slow to develop as a youngster. This makes him veryfeel isolated and lonely. By hiding his sexual preferences, he tries to fit in, but he soon discovers that everyone believes that he is gay. Still, he does not have the courage to admit it openly. But when he finally gets the courage to speak withShân, he presents his fantasies about Dylan as if they happened in real life. He does this out of frustration, out of a need to feel as experienced and important as his peers.


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