How is Zoe’s attitude toward love connected with her attitude toward death?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "You're Ugly Too" by Marie Lorena Moore both love and death are seen as areas in which modern society fails to fill the intellectual and emotional needs of the protagonist Zoe. Her attempts to find meaningful connection in love fail in part because the social constructs of gender don't end up matching Zoe's desire for complex and meaningful intellectual and emotional relationships. The men in the story are portrayed as not only themselves flawed in character or intellect or both, but also searching for women who are themselves diminished nearly to a parody of traditional gender roles.

Just as Zoe's search for romance never results in the intimacy or connection that she desires, so too her confrontation with her own mortality leads to a similar sense of missed connection or lack of emotionally profound communal support. In earlier eras, illness and death were surrounded by religious ritual, providing a form of spiritual connection and comfort, and yet in Zoe's world, the uncomfortable realities of mortality are relegated to the background, and do not create a sense of emotional connectedness.

Although the story in a sense portrays the failure of Zoe to find connection in love and consolation in her mortality through her social connections, one can also see another parallel, that Zoe's own wit and sophistication in a way distance her from her social world, creating barriers to the sort of connections she seeks. The very traditions of the midwest she mocks are ones which offer both consolation and commitment, but her own sophistication, which makes those conventions ultimately unsatisfying to her also prevents her from enjoying the connections at which more traditional communities excel.

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You're Ugly Too

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