Stalking By Joyce Carol Essay Research Paper

Stalking By Joyce Carol Essay, Research Paper We have read or heard many stories throughout our lives. We know that stories can vary in purpose: They can either teach a moral lesson or entertain. Some

Stalking By Joyce Carol Essay, Research Paper

We have read or heard many stories throughout our lives. We know that stories

can vary in purpose: They can either teach a moral lesson or entertain. Some

stories interest us; others do not. In order for a story to be interesting, it

must be told in a way that does not bore or confuse the reader. This story must

have elements that attenuate to a central purpose. These elements (setting,

character, plot, point of view, symbol, theme, etc.) forge the thoughts and

ideas of the author. Joyce Carol Oates? ?Stalking? tells the tale of a

young girl growing up in modern suburbia. ?Stalking? is a critical review of

modern American society and shows the detrimental effects that it can have on a

young child. The main character in this story is stalking the ?Invisible

Adversary?, who is the personification of the neglect that she has received in

her life. In order to send this message to the reader, Oates emphasizes the

point of view of the main character, plot, and setting in her short story

?Stalking?. The narrator of ?Stalking? is omniscient as she follows the

main character, Gretchen, throughout a city. She shows us that Gretchen is

anti-social: ?If forced, she takes part in games (Oates 162)? and ?she

just stands around, her face empty, her arms crossed and her shoulders a little

slumped (162)?. We also see that Gretchen is oblivious: ?Gretchen waits

until [traffic] is nearly clear?a single car is approaching.? (Oates 161)

and she plods ?through a jumbled, bulldozed field of mud and thistles and

debris that is mainly rocks and chunks of glass? (162). Although the narrator

visually guides us on this journey, she also lets us into the mind of Gretchen -

we see things from Gretchen?s point of view. Thoughts of ?I?ll get you

(Oates 161)?Out of my way?You?ll be sorry for that??(162) shows us

that Gretchen is angry and spiteful. Her anger and spitefulness are directed

towards her ?Invisible Adversary? – an imaginary playmate that she has

created. Why is she angry, anti-social, and spiteful? Why is she stalking the

?Invisible Adversary?? The linear plot quickly builds in this story and

answers our questions at the end. As the ?Invisible Adversary? leads

Gretchen from place to place around town, Gretchen continues to shows us her

audacious behavior everywhere she goes. In one afternoon, she knocks over a

garbage can, steals, vandalizes a restroom, and ruins a dress. Her reckless

attitude is further shown when the narrator describes Gretchen?s appearance.

She is ?stocky? and ?could be good at gym, if she bothered ? (Oates

162). There is also a bit of irony and contradiction when the narrator describes

her face. ?She has untidy, curly hair?eyebrows heavy and dark?a stern,

staring look, like an adult man?(Oates 164). ?Her nose is perfectly

formed?her face is attractive? (Oates 165). We now know that she was not

born unattractive; she chooses to be unattractive. A precursor for the

explanation of Getchen?s behavior is when she does not acknowledge her mother

at the mall. That moment in the story indicates that Gretchen feels some

resentment towards her mother. We later find out why she resents them – ?Her

mother is probably still shopping, her father is out of town for the weekend?

(Oates 166). Gretchen?s parents neglect her. She fills the void in her life,

created by her parents? neglect, by creating an ?Invisible Adversary?. Of

course, she is angered by their neglect and therefore is angry with the

?Invisible Adversary?. Oates places this story in modern suburban America

(no later than 1972). Without this setting the story does not have much meaning.

Gretchen?s parents? neglect is caused by the leisure of modern America.

Gretchen is raised in a ?big white colonial home (Oates 166)? where her

mother is engrossed in shopping and her father is out on a business or fishing

trip. Even though she is raised in a house of comfort and privilege, she is

unhappy with her life. Not even the material objects in a nearby shopping mall

can please her. In fact, she defiles anything that represents privilege and

comfort, including her white boots, lipstick, toothpaste, a dress, her home, and

herself. The narrator constantly reminds us where we are; where this story is

taking place. She makes note of the Pace & Fichbach Building, Buckingham

Mall, Federal Savings Bank, Cunningham Drug Store. The ?Invisible Adversary?

is always seeking refuge within these places. He just doesn?t go into a mall,

or by a bank, or into a drug store. No, he goes into the Buckingham Mall, by the

Federal Savings Bank, and into Cunningham Drug Store. Gretchen hates the

?Invisible Adversary?, follows him into these places, and brings her hatred

along. Gretchen disrespects these American icons not only because the

?Invisible Adversary? hides in them, but also because her parents? neglect

hides in them too. Joyce Carol Oates uses three elements in her story

?Stalking?: point of view, plot, and setting. We see this world from the

narrator?s and main character?s point of view to better understand the main

character: Gretchen is angry, spiteful, and anti-social. Oates sets up a simple,

but interesting, plot to anchor our attention to the main character?s problem:

Gretchen stalks the ?Invisible Adversary? and we want to know why. And Oates

places us in a setting that is directly related to Gretchen?s problems: The

American culture leads to Gretchen?s parents? neglect of her; Gretchen?s

parent?s neglect leads to the manifestation of ?The Invisible Adversary?.

Oates effectively uses these three elements to allow us understand the

underlining point of this story.