Ann Beattie American Literature Analysis
Critic Christina Murphy has called Beattie a neorealist who uses an equivocal voice. Unlike the univocal narrator, the equivocal narrator does not offer the reader a particular perspective or interpretation; the equivocal narrator simply offers accumulated detail. Therefore, readers must approach Beattie’s works actively—they must be acutely aware of Beattie’s fine distinctions of character and circumstance.
Critics do not challenge Beattie’s characters’ credibility; an occasional critic, however, challenges her interest in her milieu. If many of Beattie’s characters closely resemble a select segment of her generation’s college graduates, some certainly do not. “Dwarf House,” one of the short stories in Distortions, provides one example. Unlike his self-pitying mother, his confused brother, and several other miserable characters outside the Dwarf House, James accepts his physical limitations and his options realistically. Although he must stand on a chair to meet people of normal height eye to eye, he has found work, friendship, and love. James can be happy.
Even before she gave readers a small clue to her complex irony and seeming detachment by using as her copyright “Irony and Pity, Inc.,” Beattie revealed an extraordinary understanding of human personality and the dynamics of human relationships. Engaging readers by forcing them to verify behavior and events with their own experiences before they can...
(The entire section is 3332 words.)
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