Four Summers Themes

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Marriage

Oates questions the possibility that romantic love provides fulfillment for individuals and the idea that romantic love and marriage are necessarily linked. In doing so, she undermines the notion that romantic love, particularly as it is embodied in the institution of marriage, remains both a means and an end to a satisfying life. Sissie's depiction of her own parents' marriage and that of Sue and her husband suggest, instead, that marriages are often more like contractual obligations from which both parties cannot extricate themselves. Sue's husband belittles his wife, while she in turn mocks his laziness and drinking. Sissie describes the relationships between her own parents as one dominated by drinking and quarreling. She even questions her own marriage to Jesse, hoping, against evidence to the contrary, that he will be different from her father. Of her own marriage, Sissie says, "Like my parents' love, it will subside...

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This section contains 494 words
(approx. 2 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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