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Lust an intense or unrestrained sexual craving. Love to have intense feelings of tender affection and compassion for another. On paper, anyone can see the difference between love and lust, but when it comes to your mind and body, many people, especially young women, get the difference between these two, seemingly harmless words, jumbled up. So many young women go searching for what they believe to be love, and what they find, is sex. They search in many different places, with many different guys, but eventually they will come to realize that sex doesn’t mean love, all they’ve found is lust. And once they have made this realization, it is not always easy for them to stop, and because of this many lose something very important to them along the way. “Lust,” a short story by Susan Minot, shows just that, some young women hold a strong misconception of what love is and how to find it, and this error can lead to one truly poignant outcome.

In this story, the narrator, who is away at boarding school, is describing all of the different guys she has been with. At first, it seems like she is bragging, but every once in a while she slips in comments like “…The second a boy put his arm around me, I forgot about wanting to do anything else, which felt like a relief at first until it became like sinking into a muck (06).” This, and other comments like, “You make out the dim shape of windows and feel yourself become a cave, filled absolutely with air, or with a sadness that just wouldn’t stop (06)” show that there are feelings there of regret and sadness, of which, the narrator isn’t totally willing to admit to herself. She obviously feels good about what she is doing at first, but after it’s done and she realizes that the guy doesn’t love her anymore than he did before they had sex, she feels sad and ashamed. You may ask, if she feels this way afterwards, then why does she continue this behavior? Its simple really, she is in search of love, and until she finds it she won’t quit. Yes, love does not mean having sex with every guy you see, but somewhere in her mind, the seed was planted that “…If you go out with them, you sort of have to do something (06).” This misconception that was planted there, leads her to believe that in order for a boy to like you, or care about you, or love you, you must give them what they want, or expect first.

During the time period in which the narrator’s promiscuous behavior took place, our society was obviously a different world. Some young women in today’s society do have these same misconceptions about lust and love, but it was obviously a bigger issue then than it is now. “The joke was that the school doctor gave out the pill like aspirin. He didn’t ask you anything. I was fifteen. We had a picture of him in assembly, holding up an IUD shaped like a T (07).” This shows you that society recognized the problem, but instead of trying to do anything to stop it, they supplied the girls with birth control and then just looked the other way. “The headmaster told me he didn’t care what I did but Casey Academy had a reputation to uphold…There are twenty acres of woods on this campus…If you want to smooch with your boyfriend, there are twenty acres for you to do it out of the public eye (0).” This just goes to show that society caused this misapprehension of lust and love; they led young women to believe that in order for a man to provide for them and love them, they must do what makes the man happy, therefore, if sleeping with him is what makes him happy, then that is what they have to do.

For boys, the promiscuity isn’t such a big deal, in fact, for them it’s as if they have a new accomplishment under their belt each time. For girls however, its different, “…It’s as though a petal gets plucked each time.” Eventually, the girls come to realize and admit to themselves that what they are doing is wrong, but by this time it may be too late to get out of the routine they had going. It’s almost like lust is a drug, and after you become addicted to it, you can’t quit. You understand that what you are doing isn’t going to find you love, but you’ve become so dependant on it that love doesn’t seem to matter anymore, all you can think about is getting your fill, taking your drug, lust.

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The narrator shows that she feels just this way when she went to a party wearing her red shoes. The color red is a bold, vibrant, sexy color, showing that she no longer has the innocent intentions of finding love, now she is just looking to fulfill her addiction. And when she says “…We rock to jazzy tunes, with my toes pointing heavenward, and waltz and spin and dip to ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ or ‘I’ll Love You Just for Now’ (0),” you can see that she knows what she is doing is not getting her love, instead, it is just filling a craving and satisfying her for now. And then she says, “I never saw him again after that but I thought, I could have loved that one (0),” showing you that now she feels as if she is in control, and she just didn’t feel like loving that one because she rally just wanted to satisfy her addiction for lust.

However, this feeling doesn’t last for long, eventually she will come to realize that now, what she is doing is killing herself. “…Everything filling up finally and absolutely with death. After the briskness of loving, loving stops…you don’t even ask for anything or try to say something to him because it’s obviously your own damn fault.” She blames herself for everything that has happened, when society is the one that is truly to blame. However, she cannot see this; she doesn’t know that the misconception all her actions have been based on were planted there by society, all she knows is that who she really is no longer exists. “You’re gone. Their blank look tells you that the girl they were fucking is not there anymore. You seem to have disappeared (11).”

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