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In "Shopping" by Joyce Carol Oates, paragraph 30 is remarkably perceptive and poignant about the enthusiasm of a marital relationship, with all the hopes for the future and with all the belief that the children of the marriage will succeed where the parents have fallen short. It is the combination of hope and expectation, mingled with disappointment and regret, that Oates succeeds in presenting here. Has there been a more penetrating and agonizing phrase than "Never before so happy, and never since"? Is Oates telling us that hopes for happiness are destined for disappointment? Will our pursuit of happiness never lead us to our goals?
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