"Haunted" by Joyce Carol Oates is a story about Melissa who in this story is portrayed as both a woman and a little girl. She is writing about her childhood friend, Mary Lou, who is always getting Melissa into mischief. They find an old abandoned house that they visit often to play games and explore the inside. Melissa visits alone one day and encounters a women that "punishes" her for trespassing. Later Mary Lou goes to the house alone and is found murdered in the creek a few days later. They never find the murderer.
The author uses psychology to create her character's world of isolation. The main character, Melissa, is the narrator of the story. She is writing in a notebook about a story that she never shared with anyone, not even her own husband. She tells how her husband is dead and her children are all gone. She is alone.
She has always wanted to be like her friend Mary Lou. She would even pretend in her mind that she was pretty like Mary Lou. I think that this is the first time we see the condition her mental state is in. She ran from her husband on their wedding day because he wanted to make love to her. She realized she wasn't Mary Lou and when he caught her she pushed him away yelling at him, "Leave me alone! Don't touch me! You disgust me!" Why would she do that to the man she had just married?
While she is writing she keeps saying "Once upon a timeâ€¦" and talks about "two princesses, two sistersâ€¦" only she talks about Mary Lou being mean to her all the time. She says that Mary Lou ignores her at school when the more popular girls were around and then talks to her one the bus as if nothing were wrong. She said that Mary Lou was like a sister. I think that Melissa said that Mary Lou her sister because she wants so desperately to be her, she thinks that the closest she is going to get is a sister.
I think this stories isolation is in Melissa's mind. Although she is alone literally with her husband and children gone, but in her mind when she is writing she is alone or lost in her thoughts of the past.
We can look at the psychology side of things when it comes to her encounter in the Minton house the day she visited by herself. She was alone and was hearing voices coming from upstairs and went up the stairs to see where they were coming from. In the stories she says it was a woman that was in the room with her but her description makes the person seem more like a man. The "woman" already knew her name, and had been watching her, and she asked if Melissa has come to visit with her. She told Melissa that she had to be punished and took the switch out of Melissa's hand. The woman told her to pull down her jeans and her panties, made certain that her panties were down too, and made her lay on the mattress. She told her, "Now, miss, now 'Melissa' as they call you - this will be our secret won't it-" Melissa describes the way that the woman position herself to "punish" her. "I could hear her hoarse eager breathing as it came to me from all sides like the wind." Sounds like the woman was standing over Melissa, close enough for Melissa to hear and feel her breath. I think that this experience is what traumatized Melissa. This is the reason that she never shared this story with anyone. She may have been sexually assaulted. This would explain the reason she ran from her husband on her wedding day.
After they found Mary Lou's body in Elk Creek Melissa read about the murder in the papers. She went to her mom and they cried together. She was sad for losing a friend. But it says that she wanted to laugh. When her mother was trying to comfort her and she wanted to laugh. This does not sound like the way a san person would act after hearing that their best friend had been murdered.
I think that Melissa had some mental problems. You can see the psychology in this story. She pretended in her head to be like Mary Lou as an adult, when Mary Lou had been killed years ago. Even in her adult life she would think about how much better Mary Lou was than her. She has always wanted to be Mary Lou and never saw herself as a good person. She loved a girl that treated her badly. She was traumatized as a little girl in the house that day by the woman. Somewhere along the road, weather it was because of her encounter at the abandoned house or the murder of her best friend, her mind took a turn for the worse. She was not a normal person.