How does Gretchen isolate herself from society in the short story Stalking by Joyce Carol Oates?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gretchen isolates herself from society by creating a fictitious character she names Adversary and engaging in a stalking game with the character. She follows the character throughout the story and engages in deviant behavior. Adversary is developed as Gretchen’s only companion and she does not spend her time with anyone else except the fictitious character. At one point she sees her mother but because she is engrossed in the stalking game, she avoids her entirely. She does not take notice of the people around her but instead focuses on trailing Adversary. Her stalking game brings her destructive nature to the fore. She enters the mall’s drugstore and shoplifts a few items which she clearly does not need and goes ahead to destroy them. Using the shoplifted items she goes into another store and destroys the bathroom facilities by clogging the toilet. She proceeds to spill contents of a trash can and soon afterwards visits a boutique and destroys some of the dresses. Her destructive activities occupy most of her day and she seems to enjoy every moment.

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