Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, a novel in which little “action” occurs, derives its success largely from the deftness of Kellogg’s characterizations of the three “freaks.” Each carries the emotional baggage of a complex and painful life, and the ways in which their complicated psyches clash and harmonize comprise the main subject matter of the book. Because much about each character (including such secondary characters as Mario and the dog) is recounted by the omniscient narrator, the reader knows much more about them than they know about one another, which lends their interaction poignancy and humor.
Arthur is the most sympathetic character of the three, and he is also the most fully developed. Since he speaks little, much of what the reader knows about him comes from the narrator’s account of his early life. Unjustly sent to an institution for the feebleminded at an early age (he is by far the most intelligent of the trio), he has been ignored and misunderstood all his life. His first love, the cook at the mental institution, publicly humiliated him; his parents moved away without telling him. Arthur is a character of superior intellect and sensitivity who has faced a lifetime of rejection because of his inexplicable disease. His stream of consciousness is more frequently rendered than are Warren’s or Junie Moon’s, and this added insight enables the reader to see Arthur as he sees himself: as a potential lover but also as a desperately ill man.
The other half of this unlikely romantic pair is Junie...
(The entire section is 638 words.)