Adolescent Fiction on Abortion:
Developing a Paradigm and Pedagogic Responses from Literature Spanning Three Decades

Norma Klein's Beginners' Love (1983) is one of many novels which depicts the abortion decision from the unique perspective of the father.

Roman numeral I: the Teenaged Girl Becomes a Mother

While the focus of this first-person novel is the hero's reaction to his girlfriend's pregnancy, the reactions of the young mother are reflected in the leading male character. In fact, although the main character is a seventeen-year-old young man, when Joel thinks that he is in some way "being like Leda" (172), he may be voicing the projection of the lead female character through a male body.11 Thus, for example, the attitude that Joel has toward diverse sexual matters is replicated in Leda. Joel cannot withstand the temptation to masturbate; he does so at least three times in the novel not only while thinking about his girlfriend Leda, but another woman also (21, 112, 194). Joel is masturbated another time by Leda (63); on another occasion, she oral sexes him (92-3). When she notices that he is having an erection, Leda's response of "Let's just take our clothes off and get it over with" makes it seem as though sex is a chore for these young people, not a pastime of delight (125). Joel's attitude toward sex in general can be summarized in one maxim: he thinks girls want boys who are sexually experienced (35). With such a sexual philosophy Joel finds nothing wrong with having sexual intercourse with Leda at least four times (88, 126, 143, and 162).

Joel is ostensibly Jewish (46), although he affirms that he is not religious (78). His best friend, Berger, who is also irreligious (104), makes snide comments about celibacy (133).

Although Joel's father discourages him from having sex with Leda (106), he asks Joel whether he is using birth control (130). Joel expresses some fear about their not using birth control (91), but it seems clear that the woman is supposed to be the one who is in charge of that. It is only when Leda says that her period is late that she admits she hadn't regularly used her diaphragm (142). Joel, too, assumes some responsibility for the pregnancy, saying that he had some condoms that he "could have used" (144).

Roman numeral II: the Father's Reaction

Joel is certain that, if Leda is pregnant, she'll "just get rid of it" (144). Perhaps in reference to the anti-life feminist joke, Joel finds out by a father's day card from Leda that he is a dad (172). Joel accuses Leda of not having been "careful" (174). When asked, Joel thinks she should not have the baby (180). Joel says "it's better not to think about it" regarding the baby's future (182). Although he had never thought about babies before, Joel now sees them all over (155).

Roman numeral III: the Mother's Decision

There is no anxiety over an abortion decision between the two young people. Leda is shown on several occasions as having already made up her mind for abortion: she is adamant that, if she is pregnant, she will have an abortion (163) because, for her, "it was just a little clump of cells" that could become "a real baby" with the passage of time (180). Perhaps one factor which led her to accept abortion -- in a reversal of what most other male characters experience in other adolescent novels -- Leda is accepted into Yale and being pregnant would prevent her from fulfilling her educational career (176).

Roman numeral IV: Possible Outcomes of Decision

When Leda has her abortion, the other mothers in the abortion clinic look dejected, even though many of them, as in Leda's case with Joel, have their boyfriends or the fathers of the babies with them (197). After the abortion, Leda wants to "celebrate" (203). However, when she and Joel invited another brother-and-sister couple from the abortion clinic over her apartment to smoke some marijuana, almost immediately into the celebration she cries over "our babies" (205). Leda's plaintive "we're all going to be fine" spoken almost immediately after her breakdown over the aborted babies sounds too similar to the famous lines from Hemingway's story (205). Just as saying "fine" for Jig meant the opposite, for Leda, it can be argued that matters will not be satisfactory for her.

As the novel reaches its denouement, Leda's and Joel's relationship deteriorates after the abortion (207). They grow apart, especially after he goes off to a Texas college (209). The novel ends with a group of characters wanting to see the film "Endless Love". This was the film which Joel and his best friend saw when they double dated and Joel first met Leda. Joel's final comment about seeing the movie is telling, symbolic as it is of the main characters' now broken relationship: "I saw it already" (216).

From this point on in the paper, I will depart from one of my necessary criteria to analyze three teen novels which show a growing concern not so much for abortion in contemporary teen fiction, but how a mother or her lover, the father of the child, react to the mother's decision choosing life over abortion for the unborn child.

Colby F. Rodowsky's Lucy Peale (1992), chronologically the first in this new set, is a unique departure from most adolescent fiction. While this novel may depict a lead female character who is responsible for her act of fornication, the culpability is lessened by two factors: Lucy Peale's father is an ultra-strict fundamentalist Christian who wants his recently-graduated from high school daughter to confess her sin publicly at a revival; secondly, the boy who impregnates her is depicted as one who forced his will on her. Instead of confessing her sin, she runs away (26) and eventually meets another young man, Jake, who harbors her in his apartment, cares for her food and clothing needs, and, most importantly, does not take sexual advantage of the young woman who just happened to come across his path. Jake is a very respectful young man who wants to reserve his sexual powers for marriage with his ideal woman. If this novel merges with the genre of a romance, then Lucy Peale is both a novel depicting the lives of two tortured young people caught up in teen pregnancy and simultaneously a novel of mature romance.

Roman numeral I: the Teen Mother

In retrospect, Lucy recalls how she became pregnant. Wanting to get out of her father's stifling environment, Lucy meets a gang of young men which includes Phil, the father of her future child by one act of sexual intercourse (35). She discovers she is pregnant when she vomits from morning sickness (7). When she decides to run away to avoid confessing her sin in public, Lucy realizes that her father is not going to come after her to bring her back home (31).

Lucy's ambivalent thoughts and low self-esteem are detailed in a series of uncomplimentary similes: her thoughts are "like fiddler crabs" (37) or "like burrs on a dog's ear" (43). Other girls whom she sees walking with confidence are "like flies on sticky paper" (39). Lucy is immature and cannot function socially (41). The reader presumes she is seventeen-years-old since she graduated from high school "this year" (69).

Roman numeral II: the Father's Reaction

Jake, her boyfriend, is a former college man (59). Although he has numerous classic books scattered all over his typically-messy bachelor apartment (61), he found working on the beach more interesting than college. He is not to be considered a beach bum, however; his ambition is to be an assistant to a British author, Adrian Blair, who will be a writer-in-residence at Johns Hopkins (68).

Roman numeral III: the Mother's Decision

Lucy's father is an evangelist who calls her baby a "sin"; she retorts "my baby's no sin" (11). She doesn't want "to get rid of it" (77). Much later in the novel, there is a curious reference to the baby as an "it", but in a humanizing way (116). When the baby kicks, Lucy then "knew" that she was carrying a child (96-7). Lucy says she can't think of the baby as an "it" after she and Jake discuss things about their life together (116-8). More importantly, Jake provides the necessary moral support for Lucy by reacting happily to news of the baby's quickening (98-9). Unlike most other teen abortion novels, Lucy experiences a pleasant encounter with some children (87-9). She hopes to marry Jake and be happy with him forever.

Roman numeral IV: Possible Outcomes of Decision

If the abortion portion of the novel seems resolved [Lucy will not have an abortion and Jake and she seem to be the "perfect couple" -- they even argue as agreeably as married people do (100-3)], then the problem for the reader over the final sixty pages is to consider whether they can succeed in their ambitions. Fortunately, and, once again, unlike most other teen abortion novels, Lucy and Jake are genuinely religious (94-5). Even though Lucy comes from a family which distorts Christian ideals, they both want the baby to know about God (118). Their "living together" is asexual (100). When Lucy gets into bed with him one night, thinking that the only way she can repay him for his kindness is to offer him what her rapist, the father of her child, took from her, Jake jumps out (106). Sex "counts for too much" for Jake, he tells her (115). Jake considers the baby his (107), he wants to marry her, and (putting most men to shame) he is a perfectly romantic young man (108).

This happiness, which may seem saccharine to most jaundiced readers, is too much for Lucy, however: she plans to leave him so that he would not be burdened with a wife and a baby as he pursues his chance at working for Blair (110, 148-9). Just when it seems this incredibly-happy resolution would fall apart, at the end of the novel, like a deus ex machina, Lucy's sister Doris leaves her strict family and decides to help with the baby (162). Jake goes to Baltimore to be assistant to Blair. In short, what one would never find in most teen abortion novels, this story ends happy. The final statement ("it's going to be okay") conveys none of the ambiguity or despair found in novels where the mother has aborted (164-7).

Marilyn Reynolds achieved success not only with her print version of Too Soon for Jeff (1994), but also with the made-for-television film adaptation of the novel as well as her Hamilton High series of stories for teens.12 Like other novels of the early 1990s, this one reflects the anxieties of the father of the child. In a first-person narrative, Jeff Browning relates his experiences with the pregnancy of his lover. Jeff is a seventeen-year-old who has an excellent chance not only at winning his high school's debate competition but also a scholarship to a university when he discovers that he is a father.

Roman numeral I: the Teen Mother

Christy Calderon, a Mexican-American (35), is Jeff's lover. Although she is depicted as having had a Catholic grade school background (Jeff for some reason laughs when he first hears this fact) (40), Christy is as irreligious as Jeff. Jeff is halfway between being an atheist and being a believer (73). All we know about Christy at the beginning of the novel is that, when she announces her pregnancy to Jeff, she is happy about the baby (13-4).

Roman numeral II: the Father's Reaction

Jeff's reaction to the pregnancy should be understood in the context of his sexual understanding. He is not a virgin (10); presumably, he had used condoms with Christy (16). His mother, who is studying to be a nurse, had talked with him about condoms (17). Jeff's father had abandoned him and his mother when he was little (18). He is unable to control his sexual impulses and masturbates thinking about Christy (45-6). Jeff was enrolled at a human sexuality class at Planned Parenthood (57). Jeff reports that his friend Jeremy says that abstinence "is the wave of the future" (183). Lest this can be interpreted into a statement that he has learned from his sexually explicit ways and will reserve his sexual powers for marriage, the reader is immediately hit with a qualification of this fact of abstinence history: Jeff couches it in negative connotation, specifically saying that his friend "may be telling the truth about virginity, or he may be following another of his old-fashioned codes..." (183). Even after his experience with Christy, when he eventually goes out of state to college, Jeff meets another young woman, for whom he buys condoms, and with whom he has sex at least three times (198, 200-1, and 212).

With this type of sexual background, it should be no surprise that Jeff is angry at the baby. He accuses Christy of being lapse about birth control (14); he wants her to have an abortion (15). Even though his mother says that abortion "makes sense" to her (57), Christy calls Jeff a "baby killer" (63).

Roman numeral III: the Mother's Decision

At one point, while Jeff wonders if it is too late for an abortion (36), Christy is adamant that she will not abort, saying "It's my body, it's my choice, and I choose NO ABORTION!" (36). Eventually, Jeff wins the debate competition for his high school and is accepted into a Texas university later that fall (112). Jeff later learns that Christy has given birth to a son (145) whom he later calls "my son" (160). Jeff's father, however, urges him to disavow anything to do with the child, viewing the pregnancy as a trap on the part of Christy (165).

Roman numeral IV: Possible Outcomes of Decision

Although Jeff and Christy go their separate ways at the novel's conclusion, Jeff ends the novel with a limp paternal directive: he tells his newborn son not to have sex without a condom (222).

Sheila Cole's What Kind of Love? The Diary of a Pregnant Teenager (1995) follows a category of teen fiction which depicts the anxieties of teen mothers who have exercised their reproductive rights by choosing to give birth to their unborn babies.13

Roman numeral I: the Teen Mother

Valerie is a fifteen-year-old who describes her sexual relations with her lover Peter early in the novel (7-9). Even though she immediately thought of "protection" because she wanted to have sex with Peter (22), Valerie discovers she's pregnant (36).

Roman numeral II: the Father's Reaction

Since he is Harvard or Stanford bound (27), Peter suggests she has "to do something" (40). Several pages later it is clear what he wants her to do: ask about abortion at Planned Parenthood (44). Because of perceived time limits on abortion, Peter blames Valerie for waiting so long (57). When Peter proposes marriage to her, the unborn child who was called an "it" suddenly becomes "Our Baby" (61). While Valerie progresses in the pregnancy, Peter advances toward his college goals (140). Eventually, Peter reneges on promise to marry her (170).

Roman numeral III: the Mother's Decision

Valerie is confronted with an image of a sixteen-year-old girl carrying a baby (43). She calls the baby an "it" (46). Valerie assumes Planned Parenthood is the place to go for birth control (48). Since she's four months pregnant, abortion must be done in hospital; it would cost her more (52-4). Her parents want her to abort (68). Peter's and Valerie's elopement wedding plans are halted (83-4). Despite an ultrasound which she has had which enables her to bond with her baby (91-2), Valerie calls the baby an "it" (103) or "this thing growing inside me" (107). The unborn child is dehumanized with a direct simile: he or she is "like an alien invader" (112). Eventually, while she calls the baby an "it", Valerie is able to humanize the child in a direct metaphor which culminates in her first positive emotional statement for the child: he or she is a "little astronaut floating inside...I love you" (127).

Roman numeral IV: Possible Outcomes of Decision

Although she had hoped for marriage and a happier resolution of the problems of parenthood, Valerie, seeing that Peter is more interested in his college career than his fatherhood, renounces him and decides to offer the baby for adoption (190-2).

IV. Critical Evaluation and Pedagogic Responses:

Attacking the Paradigm

Now that several works have been scanned for paradigmatic elements, it may be helpful to consolidate some general criticism before engaging in a pedagogic response. First, it should be noted that adolescent fiction on abortion in the 1960s seemed to be "masked" or, better yet, "encased" in a larger, more comprehensive plot which involves the adult characters of the novel. For example, Romulus Linney's 1965 novel Slowly, by Thy Hand Unfurled depicts the anguish of a mother who comes to realize two brutal truths: first, that her daughter had an abortion and died of it; and second, the daughter seems to have had the abortion at the mother's insistence. Similarly, the concerns of Carla, the young mother who seeks an abortion in Violet Weingarten's 1967 novel Mrs. Beneker, occupy only a small portion of the plot. Even though 1967 is a decisive year in abortion history in the United States, the more dominant concern in the novel is a feminist one: the emergence of Lila Beneker, who in her middle age is finally developing her talents as a liberated woman.

The situation is similar in another novel in this pre-Roe period, B. J. Chute's The Story of a Small Life (1971). Richard Harris, the narrator, is more concerned not so much that a seventeen-year-old young man whom he admires gets his girlfriend an abortion as he is concerned that the young man get out of the ghetto. Even though abortion permeates this novel, the function of the narrator is clear: he is distant from the actors in the abortion subplot; the novel is his spiritual quest, at which, of course, he dismally fails.14

A period of less than a decade spans the earliest of the novels I have read before abortion was legalized in the United States throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Adolescent novels in the years immediately preceding and following Roe were strong in their support for abortion; this pro-abortion bias continued until decade's end. Although an uncomfortable decision for teen mothers, abortion is never questioned as an inappropriate course of action in Gunnel Beckman's 1973 novel Mia Alone. Jeannette Eyerly's 1972 novel Bonnie Jo, Go Home is perhaps the most hostile account of a mother who wants to abort. Abortion is the social-worker's cure for the poverty and apparent hopelessness of the African-American lead character in Rosa Guy's 1978 novel Edith Jackson.

And yet, despite the stridency of some of the characters in firmly pro-abortion novels, the 1970s can boast of a life-affirming trend as well. Evelyn Minshull's 1976 novel But I Thought You Really Loved Me is one of many novels which explore the situation of a young mother who has decided to give birth to her baby. Korie, who is not a sexually-promiscuous young woman, happened to fall for the very attractive Ron who impregnated her. When Ron not only rejects the baby but also rejects her, Korie turns to the people who love her the most: her family.

The theme of mothers who return to the safety of their families after the difficult experience of being rejected in love (and maybe even abandoned by their lovers as in Korie's case) continues throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. These novels show a growing trend toward the principle that abortion is a negative solution to an untimely pregnancy. According to Jane S. Bakerman and Mary Jean DeMarr, who studied adolescent fiction in the two decades from 1961-1981, some fiction began this life-affirming trend in the late 1970s. Joyce Carol Oates' 1978 novel, Son of the Morning, depicts a teen mother who wants to keep her baby after her lover abandons her. They also categorize Joyce Maynard's 1981 novel Baby Love as a novel about teen mothers who want to keep their babies.

A new trend developed in the 1990s, however, that proved not only commercially acceptable, but (an even prior proposition) appealing to the mass of the teen reading audience: the role and reaction of the unwed father to an untimely pregnancy. This decade saw a variety of fictional accounts of young teen fathers who may at first have been strongly unwilling to have anything to do with their unborn children but who ultimately become their born children's best defenders. Such is the case in Marilyn Reynolds' 1994 novel Too Soon for Jeff.

This trend toward the father's view of life-affirming options may indicate that abortion itself as subject matter may be submerging itself under a more prominent one, just as it was a subordinate issue for fiction in the 1960s. The interest in abortion as a prime factor in the plot is waning even more significantly against fiction with an emerging life-affirming theme. Norma Klein's 1988 novel No More Saturday Nights may be one of the earliest novels to connect the dramatic tension of an unwed teen father and the trend to look beyond abortion as a dilemma which seems unsurmountable. The bibliographic summary for this novel reads:

A seventeen-year-old unmarried father wins the rights to custody of his son in court; goes off to college in New York City, where he finds an apartment with three girls as roommates; and improves his relationship with his own father, always knowing his baby is the most important thing in his life.

Terry Farish's 1990 novel Shelter for a Seabird is summarized in its bibliographic record as: "At a time when her stern father seems determined to sell the island home where her family has lived for generations, sixteen-year-old Andrea is swept into a doomed romance with a nineteen-year-old AWOL soldier". Kimberly M. Ballard's 1991 novel Light at Summer's End is concerned not with an abortion decision to be made by the fourteen-year-old lead character, but by the decision to abort which her mother made. Ballard's novel shows how excruciating the abortion decision is for other persons involved: siblings, the father of the child, and grandparents.15 Berlie Doherty's 1992 novel Dear Nobody is summarized as a story where "Eighteen-year-old Chris struggles to deal with two shocks that have changed his life, his meeting the mother who left him and his father when he was ten and his discovery that he has gotten his girlfriend pregnant". Another 1992 novel, Geraldine Kaye's Someone Else's Baby, makes it clear that abortion for the young mother involved is not a serious option; deciding whether to keep the baby or not is the real concern: "Seventeen-year-old Terry, single and pregnant, decides to keep a journal to help herself come to terms with an unhappy homelife and poor self-image as she tries to decide whether or not to keep her baby". This is also the case in Marilyn Reynolds' 1993 novel Detour for Emmy, which is summarized as an exploration of a young mother of a child already born: "Emmy, whose future had once looked so bright, struggles to overcome the isolation and depression brought about by being a teen mother who gets little support from her family or the father of her child".16 C. B. Christiansen's 1994 collection of short stories, I See the Moon, is summarized in its bibliographic record thus: "Twelve-year-old Bitte learns the answer to the question, 'What is love?' when her older sister decides to place her unborn child for adoption". Abortion as an issue is certainly of secondary importance in Doran Larsen's 1997 novel Marginalia, which is primarily concerned with abused children and adolescents in the Buffalo area. The latest contribution to the body of adolescent abortion fiction is James Wilcox' 1998 novel Plain and Normal, which seems to merge the popular fascination with homosexual and lesbian issues with the plight of teens dealing with untimely pregnancy. It is obvious, however, that the issues which were once most characteristic of teen fiction (untimely pregnancy or serious thoughts about abortion) are relegated in this novel to the exploits of homosexual men in Manhattan and in an imaginary place in Louisiana.

After having gone through several key works of teen abortion fiction, it may be helpful to demonstrate how one can attack the legitimacy of the paradigm as used as a template for such fiction. Just because an author may adapt his or her story to such a tight outline does not mean that the outline itself is beyond question. In fact, it is our duty to attack it to demonstrate that abortion novels need not follow such a pro-abortion bias. If we are in the business of encouraging our students to think positively about life, to surmount whatever problems are thrown their way, and to encourage them to become fully human, then we must guide them in the dissolution of some of the nastier elements of the outline. It is our task to demonstrate to our students that sometimes the fiction which they have read can be severely questioned -- as strongly as anti-lifers would question the value of human life. Therefore, I would like to offer some "speed bumps" to help our students understand that they need not necessarily adopt the elements of this paradigm as a contemporary decalogue to guide their reading or their lives.

One counter to the validity of the outline is to ask students why an irreligious attitude seems necessary for modern life. Why are so many characters not so much seemingly tolerant of others' religion, but openly anti-religion? More acutely, why are Roman Catholics so reviled in contemporary teen fiction on abortion?17 Joan in Grau's The House on Coliseum Street is a lapsed Catholic (8). When she arrives at the abortion clinic, strongly anti-life Bonnie in Eyerly's Bonnie Jo, Go Home is suspicious that the cab driver is Catholic (26). Bonnie has a supposedly Catholic friend who helps to arrange the abortion for her (59). Leda, the heroine in Klein's Beginners' Love, and her friend dress up as nuns in one episode, only to mock them (114-5). Christy, the mother in Reynolds' Too Soon for Jeff who is later shown to be manipulative, had a Catholic grade school background (40). This is the same young woman who yells at her father that "All you care about is what your stupid old church says!" (64).

A review of sexuality can assault the integrity of the outline as well. What is sex? It might be helpful to encourage students to discuss whether they truly believe in the merely secular rendition of the definition. If a secular view of the term is accepted among today's students, then it can be pointed out that the characters in these novels demonstrate how sex which was perceived as something purely stimulus-driven and seemingly beautiful between a young man and a young woman can become selfish and demeaning.

Moreover, why should a young person immediately think of Planned Parenthood when discussing birth control and abortion? Planned Parenthood immediately comes to Peter's mind when he suggests abortion of his child in Cole's What Kind of Love? The Diary of a Pregnant Teenager (44); the mother of his child, Valerie, assumes Planned Parenthood is the place to go for birth control (48).18 The lead character in Eyerly's Bonnie Jo, Go Home sees a child in a baby stroller with a "Planned Parenthood" sticker written across it (6). On hearing that his girlfriend is pregnant, Donnie in Luger's Lauren commands her to go to Planned Parenthood (19). The Women's Center staffperson in A. M. Stephensen's Unbirthday who relates her own abortion experience to the protagonist of the novel automatically thought that she "could get help from Planned Parenthood" (72). Jeff's inability to control his sexual promiscuity in Reynolds' Too Soon for Jeff can perhaps be attributed to the fact that he was enrolled at a human sexuality class at Planned Parenthood (57).

Where are the abstinence courses and programs? Where's Birthright? Where are any of the crisis pregnancy support groups around the country that have served the maternal, legal, and financial needs of mothers with untimely pregnancies since before the Roe decision? Why don't these pregnancy-support groups appear in teen abortion fiction? And, in true Marxist literary critical fashion, if they do not appear, then students should examine why they do not. Their absence may be evidence of the oppressive power of an anti-life feminist distortion of matriarchy.

The outline can be attacked from a feminist viewpoint in another manner also. If today's young woman is truly a feminist as society supposedly makes her to be, then she should assert her right over the father's noncompliance with her choice to give birth.

Some feminist writers argue that such teen fiction liberates teens -- female teens, especially, of course, since female teenagers are women in an expansive denotative and connotative definition of "woman". Proposing an alternative feminist view is not only politically-incorrect in today's academic world, but also revolutionary since the standard party-line feminist thinking is that sexuality liberates pure and simple; there is no discussion of the responsibilities which go along with sexual rights. These feminist writers are absolutely positive that teen sexuality has solely empowering tendencies whose primary function is to overcome the much-aligned and difficult-to-define term "patriarchy".19 What does this really mean, however? Does it mean that party-line feminist thinking is so deeply entrenched in a view of sexuality that it obscures the fact that sometimes young women who engage in sexual activity face certain "dire consequences" of a failed sexual interest when the boyfriend leaves her when she's pregnant? Does it mean that the party-line feminist thinking is blind to the presence of a third party -- the unborn child -- who often is sacrificed as the teen sexual partners debate how they should live the rest of their lives? Could it also mean that party-line feminist thinking is bankrupt -- as is the fiction which embodies such thinking -- and that readers must therefore turn to creative authors like Ballard, Cole, Luger, Minshull, and Rodowsky who provide that alternative feminist envisioning?

More importantly, for purposes of examining the fourth Roman numeral in the classroom, students should be asked about the relative merits of each of the two outcomes. The first outcome is clearly the result of a bad choice. Abortion -- despite any of its linguistic masks as "freedom of choice" or "pregnancy termination" or the exercise of a tenuous "right to choose" -- still is absolutely negative. It is significant that none of the teen novels which end with the mother aborting the child end "happy" -- not the saccharine kind of happiness of a gushy romance novel, but aesthetically pleasing in the sense that fiction which involves romance between two teen partners should end resolved in the love between the partners, not in ambiguity. The novels which end in abortion end in loss of romance, loss of individual strength for the mother, and loss of certainty. Of course, no student would object to the pleasing ending of a life born and a young woman who, in true feminist fashion -- matures to adulthood when she makes the best choice for herself and her child.

I began this paper with sample opening sentences from particular genres. Maybe the dominant feature of adolescent fiction on abortion is best characterized by the ending statements. If an adolescent abortion novel ends in the killing of the unborn child, then the ending would be as sad as that in Eyerly's Bonnie Jo, Go Home: "Leaving New York eleven days after she had arrived, her face seemed to have aged a year for every day she had been there" (114) or as ambiguous as the ending in Klein's Beginners' Love: "I saw it already" (216). If, however, the adolescent abortion novel ends with a life-affirming statement, then that which ends Rodowsky's Lucy Peale may have already set the standard for what a young mother with low self-esteem can do in her life and that of her unborn child:

I'm ready now, and I'll go and get Doris and she'll come home with me and we'll put my stuff in the bedroom, where the crib's already set up, and her stuff in the living room, and then maybe we'll go out and I'll show her the library and the laundromat and what the beach's like in wintertime.

I'll go now and this time I'll drive right up to the house, only Pa won't be there, 'cause Doris said he had to see a man over Salisbury way. But Ma'll be there and maybe she'll come out. Or maybe I'll get brave and go inside and see Warren and Liddy and where I used to live, and even that moldy old parrot.

And maybe I'll get to see the quilt. The one Ma's making for the baby.

And as far as the rest -- everything else -- it's going to be okay. One way or another, it's going to be okay. (166-7)

Next Page: Works Cited
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