The Girls Essay

Joy Williams (writer)
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Ullmann is a freelance writer and editor. In the following essay, she explores the theme of evil in Williams’s short story.

“The Girls,” by Joy Williams, is a story in which evil reigns, front and center. The protagonists—the main characters—are cruel and unsympathetic. Their antagonist, Arleen, is the one with whom the reader sympathizes because she is so credibly normal and appears to be vulnerable to the girls’ attacks for much of the story. The evil within the girls seems outwardly expressed by their cats that kill songbirds in the garden, lounge around the house, and are generally aloof. Arleen’s picking bloodsuckers off the cats at the end of the story is symbolic of her exorcising them of evil. The sudden death of the girls’ mother following Arleen’s pronouncement that the girls are...

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This section contains 1,668 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Girls Study Guide
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