You're Ugly Too Analysis
by Marie Lorena Moore

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Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Women and Academia
In the 1980s, women were greatly outnumbered by men as faculty members, accounting for only 27 percent of all academic faculty, according to Academic Women Working towards Equality (Bergin and Garvey Publishers, 1987). This number was an increase of about 5 percent over the period 1942–1962, according to the same study. By contrast, women reached their peak in terms of representation among faculty members in 1879–1880 when they made up 36 percent of all faculty in U.S. colleges and universities. According to the National Resource Council’s Humanities Doctorates in the United States, 1991 Profile (National Academy Press, 1994), about one-third of all PhD candidates in History between 1981 and 1988 were women.

Detection of Tumors
Ultrasound imaging, also known as ultrasonography, is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that uses high frequency sound waves and their echoes to help physicians get an inside view of soft tissues and body cavities. By the 1980s, ultrasound had been widely available to clinics and hospitals for years and was the method of choice for diagnosing abdominal-related pains. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, had just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1984, but because of its costs would not be widely used for diagnosis for at least another decade.

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The external plot of “You’re Ugly Too” is obviously not very important for Moore’s purposes. The plot is little more than a particular situation to highlight what is going on inside of Zoë’s head. A brief sketch of her academic career and unsuccessful romances sets the scene for her trip to New York where she meets yet another romantic cripple.

Moore’s use of a third-person narration, which closely follows the consciousness of Zoë Hendricks, allows the reader to see the woman from both the outside and the inside. The reader is thoroughly sympathetic with Zoë, particularly if the reader has experienced firsthand some of the pitfalls of academic teaching and a few unsuccessful relationships. However, one can also see that Zoë partly creates the distance between herself and others. Zoë remains appealing primarily because of her wry sense of humor when looking at both herself and her world.

Moore’s stories have been compared to the stories of Raymond Carver, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Flannery O’Connor. The pervasive comic despair of Moore’s stories may be similar to that of O’Connor’s stories, but in theme she is much closer to Carver. Her characters rarely, if ever, achieve moments of epiphany; such a move might imply easy answers, and Moore clearly disdains easy answers to the complex angst suffered by her women characters. Moore’s style is simple, reminiscent of both Mason and Carver. However, humor is Moore’s pervading trademark. Occasionally, this humor threatens to usurp the sad, underlying truths of her stories, but in “You’re Ugly Too,” Moore maintains a fine balance.

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Throughout ‘‘You’re Ugly, Too,’’ Moore uses flashbacks, jokes, and anecdotes to complete Hendricks’s character. Although the story’s plot is sparse, the reader is given ample details of the protagonist’s dates, her relationships with her students and colleagues, and her feelings for her geographic surroundings that effectively fill in her psychology and personality.

‘‘You’re Ugly, Too,’’ seen through the point of view of the main character, is told in a witty, often sarcastic and glib tone. Hendricks’s views of her surroundings—her students, the Midwest, and the men she’s dated—are revealed through cutting and sarcastic anecdotes and jokes. Even her trip to the hospital for ultrasound tests that may reveal a fatal growth is described with wit and sarcasm. This tone acts to underscore her generally morbid and cynical view of her life.

Point of View
Although the story is narrated in a third person omniscient point of view, ‘‘You’re Ugly, Too’’ is told through the eyes of Zoë...

(The entire section is 1,188 words.)