We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

March 8, 2011
By Angel Navarro SILVER, Phoenix, Arizona
Angel Navarro SILVER, Phoenix, Arizona
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In Oates novel, We Were the Mulvaneys, published in 1996, the story of how a family is torn apart by a tragic event that happened to the family’s only daughter, Marianne Mulvaney. On the night of her junior prom, February 14, 1976, Marianne is sexually assaulted by an older boy at a party. After refusing to testify, Marianne is sent away by her parents, Michael and Corrine Mulvaney. Although Marianne is sent away, the Mulvaney family’s problems are not solved.

The Mulvaneys are now outcast of their town. Michael Mulvaney develops a drinking and smoking problem, his business starts to go bankrupt, and he loses his relationship with his oldest son, Michael Jr. Corrine lies to Marianne about when she can go home and is constantly worrying about Michael Sr. leaving late at night. Patrick, the middle son, moves out after graduating, rarely contacts his family, and decides he want to execute justice on Marianne’s rapist. Judd, the youngest and narrator of the novel, is asked by Patrick to help execute justice. During everything, Marianne is patiently waiting to be called back home.

Oates’s novel is a heartfelt and compelling story. “I guess he’s forgiven me?” The recurrence of forgiveness throughout the novel gives it a wonderful theme. The characters are well developed with intricate backgrounds that give them personality. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a book that will grasp their attention and keep hold of it throughout the entire novel.


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