My Oedipus Complex

by Frank O'Connor
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Where can I find a literary criticism on "My Oedipus Complex"? I need some information about its characters, plot, and theme.

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Frank O’Connor’s story “My Oedipus Complex ” presents the dilemma faced by young Larry Delaney of his father being away fighting in a war and of his subsequent adjustment when his father returns and takes all his mother’s attention. The main part of the story comes from the boy’s...

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Frank O’Connor’s story “My Oedipus Complex” presents the dilemma faced by young Larry Delaney of his father being away fighting in a war and of his subsequent adjustment when his father returns and takes all his mother’s attention. The main part of the story comes from the boy’s perspective, centering on his attachment to his mother and revealing his emotions during those difficult childhood years. The adjustments that childhood always brings and the common misunderstandings stemming from youthful ignorance are the primary themes.

While young Larry understands that being a father is a special relationship with a mother, and one that yields babies, he clearly has not yet learned the facts of life. Feeling intensely competitive with and jealous of his father, whom he barely knew when his father left for military service in World War II, Larry announces that one day he will marry his mother and they will have lots of babies. Months after his father returns, a new baby does arrive. In his state of blissful ignorance, Larry believes that the baby is proof that he is achieving his goals.

It does not take long before he transfers his resentment from his father to the squawky new baby, who takes even more time away from his mother than his dad ever had. Ultimately, he finds fellowship with his dad, who is also displaced by the infant, and the two bond over their exclusion from the mother-child dyad.

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You can find what you need right here at eNotes. I've pasted a link to the Masterplots article on this story, which is a part of the "My Oedipus Complex" group. In that article, you will find a brief summary, character descriptions, discussion of themes, and other details.

You can also find critical analysis of the story in the book Frank O'Connor: An Introduction, by Maurice Wohlgelernter. Penguin Classics, which published a collection of O'Connor's short stories, has a brief article on its web site as well.

Visit the links below for more information.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team