The Misguided Payoff

720 Words3 Pages
In the story “The Payoff” by Susan Perabo, the narrator Anne is drawn into a scheme well beyond her years. As a sheltered young girl she is acutely aware of her naïveté of the complexity of adult life and adult relationships. But after stumbling upon her principal and young art teacher in a sexual act, Anne by the urging of her more mature best friend Louise, joins in the plan to blackmail them for just twenty dollars. Louise is obviously an influence on Anne and pushes her in a direction Anne knows would make her parents disappointed. However, she agrees to the plan without much resistance, probably because she is fascinated by the sexual relationship she now finds herself innocently involved in, unbeknownst to the adults involved. Anne is essentially an innocent girl who finds herself sexually maturing and performing acts that go against her moral compass and is in a constant state of unbalance. Anne begins the story as a regular 11-year-old at softball practice with her best friend Louise, but together they stumble upon a very adult scene: their principal and art teacher in a sexual act in the classroom. They are both young girls, trying to act older than they are; they try to demonstrate their so-called maturity by swearing: “ ‘Bullshit,’ [Louise] said, for this was our favorite swear word and we used it indiscriminately” (Parabo 437). Like all young people trying to prove their maturity, they use the most mature words they know. Annie also feels older than her mere eleven because “though she [is] only three years older than [her brother] Nick, [she gets] to be in on all [her] father’s jokes” (438). She shows her youth, however, when she admits that she “learned that men didn’t actually need to remove their underpants to have sex” (438). At eleven, Anne is at an awkward age of childhood innocence and wanting to be a more independent and mature person.
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