Haunted by Joyce Carol Oates is a great story about two young girls that are, like most young girls, very adventurous. It is a postmodernism story that was highly impacted by the, then new ideas of psychoanalysis. I like the way in this time period that everything isn’t happy, it’s more realistic. Oates did a great job of creating a sense of fragmentation and isolation in this story.
If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!Essay Writing Service
Melissa starts with some background, about how everything got started. Talking about how her mother told her ghosts weren’t real, but just superstition, and how it was unsafe to go tramping around these old abandoned houses. She then gets very jumpy, jumping from past to present. This sort of threw me off, but she accomplished the sense of fragmentation by doing this. She then goes on to say how stories begin with Once upon a time and how she couldn’t tell her stories that way, because that’s how fairy tales began.
In the fifth grade, Melissa had a teacher, Mrs. Harding who was very picky about messy notebooks. “More is expected of you, Melissa, so you disappoint me more” is what Mrs. Harding would say to Melissa about her journal grade, making her feel isolated. And Mary Lou, her friend wouldn’t help the situation any. Mrs. Harding died of a stroke, and Mary Lou blamed it on the two of them, “that was because of us, wasn’t it,” also creating the sense of isolation. Melissa always thought Mary Lou was the prettiest girl, and that she was ugly, again making her feel isolated.
Then she jumps back to present time. This part was hard for me to wrap my head around, I had to read the whole story a few times to understand what was going on, but when I did, I really liked it. She talks about how she’s older, “husband dead for nearly a year..children scattered,” once again, isolated. But now it doesn’t seem to bother her, she likes the way “there is no one to interrupt..no one to pry.” But she isn’t content with the way she looks, being older, so she avoids mirrors, to make her feel younger. Then she jumps back in time, but not back to her childhood with Mary Lou, but with her husband. They were in a cornfield, and she was running from him, she began to hear the rustling sound, the sound of voices. She felt he could never love her, because she was the “ugly” one, comparing herself to Mary Lou, whom he had never met. Once again, making her feel isolated.
Then back again to her childhood with Mary Lou. A story about the Medlock’s, and their farm. Mr. Medlock died in one of the barns, and Mrs. Medlock found him, and how she went crazy and was put in a state hospital. Of course Melissa and Mary Lou wondered if the house or barns were haunted, and they just couldn’t stay away. They explored the barns, and peeped in the house windows, and climbed on the roof. Mary Lou would make comments about how she’d “like to burn this place down,” and Melissa would get scared that she really would, again feeling isolated, and Mary Lou would laugh and say she was just playing. Melissa’s mother hated Mary Lou and tried to get Melissa to make better friends with the other girls. When Mary Lou and Melissa would go to town, Mary Lou would ignore Melissa when the other girls were around, then act like her best friend on the ride home. Once again, Melissa is isolated. Melissa was very jealous of Mary Lou’s long, blond, silky hair. She would dream about it, but by the time she woke up, she would be confused if the hair was hers, or someone elses. Mary Lou was older, taller, a bit heavier, and in Melissa’s eyes, prettier. Melissa noticed that the older boys whistled at her, and the bus driver called her “Blondie,” but Melissa never got that attention. Mary Lou would make comments about how she “wished all the cows would die..so her father would give up and sell the farm and they could live in town in a nice house” and to Melissa, Mary Lou wanted to abandon her. Again, Melissa was feeling isolated. Later Melissa found out that the bank owned most of Mary Lou’s family’s farm, even the dairy cows.
In seventh grade, Mary Lou had a boyfriend who was older, and she picked Hans over Melissa, leaving her walking on the road by herself. She said she preferred to be alone, so she was isolated, but this time, by choice. Around this time, Melissa and Mary Lou go to the Minton house, where a man beat his wife to death and no one found out until he killed himself with a .12-guage shotgun. From the road the house looked big, and it seemed hard to believe that anything like that happened, but Melissa was wrong. Inside the house, Melissa heard “low persistent murmuring” but Mary Lou didn’t act like she heard it, once again Melissa is isolated. Hans had stopped coming around, Mary Lou’s father had found out about it, Mary Lou would say “I hate them all,” and “I wish..” which I’m sure she would have taken back if she knew what was to become of her. They picked the Minton farm as the one they liked the best, picnicking on the front porch, acting like sisters, acting like they lived there. Melissa went back herself a few days later, and that’s when she went upstairs and the woman greeted her. She was alone, but wasn’t afraid. When the person told her to come away from the window, she took her time. This really surprised me, but this is probably the first time in the whole story that she didn’t really feel isolated, but I definitely would! The way Oates didn’t use quotation marks on what the person said to Melissa, until Melissa saw the woman confused me. The woman punished her, she became scared, then let her go. This is where the psychoanalysis comes in. Is she dreaming this woman is there, and this punishment happened? Because she talks about how she doesn’t mind the smell of the room, and how it’s not her doing these things (taking off her pants/panties and lying down on the nasty bed.)
Melissa told Mary Lou about the Minton house, but not that the woman wanted to see her like the woman asked, and Mary Lou went anyway. I think this is the first time in the story where Melissa feels like she’s in control when it comes to her’s and Mary Lou’s friendship., but this is what costs her the friendship. Mary Lou makes the comment “I hate you..I always have” and yes, again, Melissa is isolated.
Then back to present day, and Melissa is confused. She knows what has happened in her life, but not what has happened in the pages of the notebook.
Mary Lou was found murdered ten days after her hateful comment to Melissa, and I’m sure Melissa felt as if it was partly her fault. Her mother made sure she knew that Jesus loves her too, and her parents wouldn’t let her to go the funeral. I’m sure she felt isolated. She finishes up the story with how she doesn’t remember things that just happened as well as things that happened in the past, and with Once upon a time.
Oates did a really good job of writing this story. It was very believable, if it wasn’t true. She did a good job of using psychoanalysis, and a constant feel of isolation. I liked it a lot, I liked most of the Modernism/Postmodernism stories.
Cite This Work
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:
Related ServicesView all
DMCA / Removal Request
If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: