them Essay

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McIntosh-Byrd is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. In the following essay she explores the roles of class and gender in constructing the oppressive physical reality of the characters in them.

Joyce Carol Oates's 1969 novel them presents an extended meditation on the complex social and cultural pressures that contribute to the construction of class and gender. This can be seen most vividly in the elaborate representation of bodies as they are experienced, felt, used, and hated by her various characters. Though the definition of women as bodies by themselves and their culture is the primary focus of critique, this pressure is felt by all of them. Gender restriction is always viewed through and altered by the lens of social class, and the poorer male characters experience the same pressure to define themselves through physical reality. No one is more typified than Jules, who thinks of himself...

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This section contains 1,926 words
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Buy the them Study Guide
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