"Happy" by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockpot, New York.
She grew up on a farm and enjoyed the natural environment. She displayed a precious interest in books and writing and at age 14 she began preparing herself, "writing novel after novel" throughout highschool and college. Later she had become one of the most respected and honored writers in the United States.
To date, she has published 37 novels and novellas, including a series of experimental suspense novels under the pseudonym Rosamund Smith.
She is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University and continues to live in Princeton with her husband of over 35 years. In 1996, Joyce Carol Oates received the PEN/Malamad Award for "a lifetime of literary achievement"
The story "Happy" is about a girl who flys home at Christmas to visit her mother. At the airport she meets her mother and her mother´s new husband. Both of them payed compliments after they welcomed each other (p.46,l.1-10).
The girl feels the happiness of her mum, but also can see that she is an elderly lady now, with "veins in her arms" (p.46,l.11) and a "pancake makeup" (p.46,l.14) to hide her lined face.
They drive to Easy Sal´s and drink something which her mother calls "celebration drinks" (p.47,l.2). The woman tells about saling the old house and moving into a newer building.
After that she speaks about her great new feelings and that she is so happy with the new circumstances but the daughter reacts sceptical.
Because Easy Sal´s has entertainment a young landy, looking like a punk, appeares and sings about abortion, lesbians and other crazy things. The girl´s mother and her new husband are amused but the man sais that he doesn´t "approve of dirty language issuing form woman´s lips, whether they are dykes or not" (p.449,l.5/6).
After that they eat something in a Polynesian restaurant and the elderly woman and her husband behave like teens, hold hands and giggle together (p.49,l.12 ff.).
When the lady goes to the toilet the man wants the girl to know that her mother is the most wunderful woman to him and the girl sais that she knows it.
The mother´s new husband answeres in "a fierce vioce cose to tears: Damn right, sweetheart:
you know it" (p.49,.l 21 ff.)
Stylistic Divives
The two similes (p. 47,l. 23 ff.) "He makes me feel like living again" and "(...) like a woman again" emphasise how happy and lucky the elderly woman is.
However she is at older age everybody can see that she doesn´t feel like that and that the situation is like starting a new life for her. She can´t stop smiling and talking about the new plans she has with her new husband and that shows that he, and his love, are the reason for her wonderful feelings
On page 49 (l.13 ff) you can find an enumeration: "(...) they were in high spirits again, laughing a good deal, holding hands between courses, sipping from each others tall frosted bright colored tropical drink".
This sentence makes clear for the reader that the girl´s mother and her new husband feel and behave like teens, however they are grown-up. For them everything in the world is wonderful and their love is the only thing that counts.
The author uses a large number of adjectives and adverbs to describe the situations, the emotions and the appearances of people and things. It makes the story more interesting and exciting for the reader and it´s more fun for him to read it.
The omnicent narrator describes in detail and so the reader has the possibility to get a lively and great story. He tells about feelings and reactions that everybody knows what´s happening inside the persons.
All in all, i can say you should read that story.

by Katharina Müller

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