Loretta is the character who sets the story in motion, yet she is the least conscious of her connections to the world that she represents and engenders, a world glamorized by films and magazines. She concentrates, rather, on her own body, her own concerns—the way she looks in the mirror, the way her hair is styled. Although she is constantly pushed around, she swears that she lets no one boss her. She is a brilliant creation that allows the author to explore the efforts of a second generation to deal with conflicts and contradictions that Loretta cannot contemplate. She is, in a sense, so close to the culture which shapes her that she cannot differentiate herself from it.
Jules, on the other hand, fights his father and his society. As a child he is fascinated by the destructive power of fire and burns down a barn; years later he will be in the forefront of rioters planning the conflagration of a whole society. Jules has all the violent tendencies of Loretta’s brother, Brock, and like his uncle, Jules murders a man, a policeman who is meant, no doubt, to be reminiscent of his father, Howard. Yet Jules is also capable of tender love, not only for Nadine—the rich girl he meets while delivering flowers in Grosse Pointe—but also for his mother and sister, to whom he writes moving letters.
Maureen, who has passively shared much of her mother’s degradation, sees in Jules the hope of her life. Yet her aspirations, unlike his, are essentially...
(The entire section is 496 words.)