Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Identify the Gothic elements in the fiction of Joyce Carol Oates.

Oates has been accused of excessive violence in her novels and stories. What purpose does it serve in her fiction?

How does point of view operate in an Oates novel or short story? Is it consistent? Does it shift among different characters?

What does Oates say about contemporary American society? What are its preoccupations, its limitations?

How does the American family thrive in Oates? What are its strengths, and what are its problems?

Do Oates’s protagonists come to some understanding of their identity by the end of the work?