How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again Characters

Joyce Carol Oates


(Short Stories for Students)

A woman of indeterminate age (between twenty and thirty-five), she is an addict and a prostitute. She has ‘‘an odor of tobacco about her,’’ and has ‘‘unwashed skin, gritty toes, hair long and falling into strands, not recently washed.’’ She has been living on the streets since she was about thirteen years old.

Dr. Coronet
Isabelle Coronet is the psychiatrist that the narrator’s parents send her to twice a week after her return from the house of corrections. The narrator describes her as ‘‘queenly,’’ but surprisingly ‘‘normal for a woman with an I.Q. of 180 and many advanced degrees.’’

A ‘‘white girl of maybe fifteen,’’ Dolly is one of the two girls in the house of correction who beat the narrator in the bathroom.

The narrator’s father, whose name she does not provide, is a successful physician, a member of all the right clubs, a ‘‘player of squash and golf.’’ He is a prominent member of the community of Bloom- field Hills and is able to use his social connections to smooth over his children’s difficulties with the authorities, but he seems to be unable to show them the love and attention they need.

Mr. Forest
Though ‘‘not handsome,’’ Mr. Forest, the English teacher, is described by the narrator as ‘‘sweet and rodentlike.’’ It’s for his English class at Baldwin Country Day School that these ‘‘notes for an essay’’ are being written.

Raymond Forrest
Raymond Forrest is the owner...

(The entire section is 658 words.)