Four Summers Essay

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In the following essay, Cushman provides an analysis of "Four Summers," asserting that Oates is "more interested in psychology than sociology," and finding the story "another version of American Gothic."

Joyce Carol Oates's "Four Summers" is a rich, rewarding, complex story that has received no critical attention. Featured in James H. Pickering's popular anthology, Fiction 100, the story is being read these days by a large number of students and teachers. In this essay I will try to account for the story's effectiveness.

Mary Kathryn Grant has pointed out that in "Oates's works three themes—women, city, and community—merge into all-too-real nightmare." All these ingredients are present in "Four Summers." The protagonist and narrator, Sissie, is a girl who, like almost all of Oates's heroines, is a victim. The beaten-down characters in the story exist on the periphery of urban life. Community is not possible...

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This section contains 4,929 words
(approx. 13 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Four Summers Study Guide
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Four Summers from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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