them Essay

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In the following essay, DeCurtis examines how Oates's characters in them perceive their lives as unreal and fictional accounts as representative of "real life."

Two letters written by Maureen Wendall, one of the novel's main characters, to Joyce Carol Oates, the novel's author and Maureen's former teacher, are essential to an understanding of them. The letters are passionate, angry, accusatory, and confessional. Maureen challenges Oates with questions, taking her to task for statements she made to her literature class: "You said, 'Literature gives form to life,' I remember you saying that very clearly. What is form? Why is it better than the way life happens, by itself?" The notion that something can provide shape and meaning to our experiences both fascinates and infuriates Maureen, who, like all of Oates's characters, moves in a world in which "Nothing follows" and "anything" can and frequently does happen. A desperate...

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This section contains 4,698 words
(approx. 12 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the them Study Guide
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