In The Lives of Girls and Women, the main character Del Jordan grows from a young curious child to a woman. At a young age she is very curious about her sexuality, but is forewarned by her mother to be careful about her decisions. Del's curiosity leads her into making many wrong decisions regarding men. All these wrong decisions cause her to lose everything she had worked so hard for her goals, her dreams ruined.
Del's first relationship with a man is Art Chamberlain, who works at the Jubilee radio station and is the boyfriend of Fern Dogherty, the Jordan's resident. Chamberlain begins to grope Del secretly in the presence of others. Del thought of this as a "signal of impertinent violation, so authoritative, clean of sentiment"(Munro 177) Del subsequently chooses to make herself vulnerable by getting into positions where Chamberlain can continuously violate her body. After all this Del still allows him to take her to a secluded place by the river, where he masturbates in front of her. Del doesn't exactly understand his actions but just the thought was horrifying. Mr. Chamberlain leaves Jubilee and Fern. Del is left feeling ashamed and violated. Del's mother uses Fern's case to warn Del against being similarly distracted by a man, and allowing it interfere with her ambitions: " Once you make that mistake, of being distracted over a man, your life will never be your own." (193)
As Del grows she become close friends with Jerry Storey, who competes with her for top marks at Jubliee High School and claims to have the highest IQ ever seen in Wawanash high schools. Jerry belittles Del's intellect, characterizing it as feminine and abstract. This uncaring relationship becomes odd when Del gets a bit to curious and ends up having an odd sexual encounter that leaves her naked and alone in his basement when his mother returns home unexpectedly. Well sitting in the basement Del's confidence is crushed into pieces. She is furious with her decision and Jerry, and could not find the strength to pull herself together. She says "I was furious now, to think of myself naked on that bed. Nobody to look at me but Jerry, giggling and scared and talking dialect. That was who I had to take my offerings. I would never get a real lover."(225)
Del last relationship in the novel is with Garnet French, who was in jail and was saved by the Baptists. When Del first sees Garnet at church she's mesmerized by him and all that he is. Right from the beginning of there relationship Garnet is very controlling from assuming she'll attend youth meetings at the Baptist church to forcing her to visit his family and skip out on studying. Garnet gets his way by playing on Del's feelings, Del lets Garnet control her because she thinks they're in love and that he is doing it for the better. Hadn't she learned from her previous decisions with men that she was being a little naive? Nope, she let Garnet continuously control her until his attitude turned into violence when...