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We Were the Mulvaneys Approach Paper

  • Date Submitted: 01/05/2015 04:15 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 58.6 
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Anonymous
1/1/14
Pd. 1

  A. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
  B. United States, 20th century (1990s)
  C. 1970-1993, various small towns in New York
  D. Psychoanalytic Perspective
In Joyce Carol Oates’s We Were the Mulvaneys, Michael Mulvaney Sr. has betrayed his family and become untrustworthy. Michael does not have a good relationship with his father; he ceases all contact with his father after he kicks him out at the age of eighteen. Michael betrays his children and wife, essentially doing to them what his father does to him. However, he cannot accept that he has betrayed his family, and he refuses to recognize that his actions resemble those of his father. As a result, he projects his own betrayal onto the members of his family. Marianne, Michael’s only daughter, is raped. Although she is a victim, Michael blames her for her rape. Michael loves her the most of all his children, and considers her rape an act of betrayal. In reality, he betrays Marianne by sending her away; he views his daughter as the perpetrator rather than the victim and instead of helping her cope with the trauma, he inflicts further emotional pain on her. Also, Michael feels his son Patrick has betrayed him by surpassing him intellectually and academically. He is jealous of the fact that his son goes to “fancy Cornell University” (388). But, Patrick feels Michael has betrayed him by sending his sister away. He is angry at and ashamed of the way his father copes with Marianne’s rape. He refuses to further communicate with his father after he has sent Marianne away. In addition, Michael feels his youngest son Judd has betrayed him; he feels that Judd’s stubbornness is a deliberate betrayal. Furthermore, Judd moves out before he turns eighteen and Michael is resentful. However, Judd moves out because he feels his father has betrayed him and his mother. He witnesses his parents fighting and Michael strikes Corinne. Judd attempts to intervene and Michael strikes him as...

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