"We Were The Mulvaneys" By Joyce Carol Oates.

1002 words - 4 pages

The book, "We Were the Mulvaneys" by Joyce Carol Oates, is the story of an "all American family" that falls apart after their daughter is raped. The father, who once had a successful roofing company, lets his business slide and devotes his life to alcohol and law suits, and the three brothers either abandon the family or try to find a method of gaining vengeance for their sister. This particular excerpt describes a scene by the brook, where the youngest Mulvaney (Judd) is contemplating life and the shortness of it. This episode occurs before the family initially fell apart. Oates uses several literary techniques, such as stream of consciousness, the writing perspective of a first person narrative, and the method of foreshadowing, to indirectly characterize Judd Mulvaney who is the narrator of the manuscript as a mature young man, very aware of situations surrounding his life, and a person who simply cares for his family.Judd's thoughts are predominantly known throughout this entire selection, and they mostly concern his own death that he feels is impending. The stream of consciousness technique becomes evident early on when Judd is by the brook. As he gazes into the water he goes over in his mind what he is thinking, not just what he's assessing about the brook, but also he lets his mind wander to items that he must remember to tell his father and, unknowingly, the rationality of children. As he stares at the moving water his begins to focus his mind on his heartbeat, which it the catalyst that leads Judd's thought process to focus on his life and eventual death. Several times Judd thinks the exact same concept of: "Every heartbeat past and gone!", as if each beat brings him and his family nearer to their ends. The context seems to reveal that Judd is afraid of death, yet he is also aware that there is nothing he can do about it, that one day he too will die. This method of characterization exposes the fact that Judd is resigned to the truth that he will pass away ultimately, which in turn shows that he is mature beyond his years. For an eleven to twelve year old boy to contemplate such a thing as his own death surely shows that he has experienced more in his life that has made him psychologically older.The book is written in the first-person point of view as a narrative, which adds and deducts from the story itself. The pro of using such a perspective is that the reader can gain insight into the subject/narrator's mind, which can provide helpful hints about underlying clues, but on the other hand the reader's knowledge of events is limited to the narrator's awareness of proceedings, basically: If the raconteur doesn't know, then the reader doesn't know. This literary technique is a good method of indirect characterization, it lets on to the character's exact thoughts...

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