Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The external plot of “You’re Ugly Too” is obviously not very important for Moore’s purposes. The plot is little more than a particular situation to highlight what is going on inside of Zoë’s head. A brief sketch of her academic career and unsuccessful romances sets the scene for her trip to New York where she meets yet another romantic cripple.

Moore’s use of a third-person narration, which closely follows the consciousness of Zoë Hendricks, allows the reader to see the woman from both the outside and the inside. The reader is thoroughly sympathetic with Zoë, particularly if the reader has experienced firsthand some of the pitfalls of academic teaching and a few unsuccessful relationships. However, one can also see that Zoë partly creates the distance between herself and others. Zoë remains appealing primarily because of her wry sense of humor when looking at both herself and her world.

Moore’s stories have been compared to the stories of Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Flannery O’Connor. The pervasive comic despair of Moore’s stories may be similar to that of O’Connor’s stories, but in theme she is much closer to Carver. Her characters rarely, if ever, achieve moments of epiphany; such a move might imply easy answers, and Moore clearly disdains easy answers to the complex angst suffered by her women characters. Moore’s style is simple, reminiscent of both Mason and Carver. However, humor is Moore’s pervading trademark. Occasionally, this humor threatens to usurp the sad, underlying truths of her stories, but in “You’re Ugly Too,” Moore maintains a fine balance.