People Like That Are the Only People Here Analysis

Marie Lorena Moore

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The plot of “People Like That Are the Only People Here” is predictably linear; the only surprise may be that the tumor is not as bad as feared and that the baby goes home, without having to undergo chemotherapy. The focus of the story is on the mother and writer’s coping techniques, which, as mentioned earlier, have a lot to do with writing itself.

Moore’s story reads very much like a series of notes on the ongoing experience. Breaks in the notes are indicated by extra line spacing. These notes are more than diary entries and less than a coherent, unified story. This lack of cohesion is probably deliberate on Moore’s part, a true case of form reflecting content. Her narrative technique illustrates her rejection of the notion that such a horrific experience can be understood, ordered, or unified into one coherent whole.

Moore’s trademark humor is subdued in this story, naturally, but it is not absent. There are traces of humor even in the first paragraph when the mother imagines any number of unlikely reasons there would be a blood clot in her baby’s diaper. The subtitle itself is humorous, and her depiction of God is humorous. Throughout the story, the mother is allowed her moments of ironic reflection or occasional sarcastic gibes. There is never any danger, however, of Moore’s humor undermining the magnitude of the experience attributed to the mother. This humor seems absolutely necessary to maintain some distance between the storyteller and the story. Otherwise, the story itself might have never been told.