Disorganized Syntax In Joyce Carol Oates's We Were The Muulvaneys

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In an excerpt from her novel We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates uses disorganized syntax, detailed imagery, and repetition to characterize the speaker, Judd Mulvaney, as a young, curious boy, coming-of-age and suddenly aware of his maturity and of the realities of life. In the excerpt, Oates uses disorganized and unusual syntax to display the enormity of Judd’s revelation, thus alluding to his sudden awareness and depicting him as a young boy shocked by the brevity of life. As Judd comes to terms with the fact that one day he will die, he becomes disturbed by the reality that death is inevitable and his heart rate quickens. He interrupts his sentence to describe its rhythm: “ONEtwothree ONEtwothree!”. The sudden irregularity of his sentence and disruption of the natural flow of the piece conveys the chaos and distress Judd is experiencing as he digests his revelation. He does this multiple times, interrupting another sentence with the question “Am I going to die?”, and using sentence fragments, run-ons, and random, off-topic interjections. By using this writing style, Oates conveys Judd’s thought process. He is jumping from thought to…show more content…
These devices also develop the theme of coming-of-age and maturity. The excerpt describes describes a transformative moment in which Judd comprehends that he will die, his family will die, and that one must cope with death. This idea is developed through the use of disorganized diction, detailed imagery, and repetition, as Judd’s overwhelmed state is intensified through these devices and thus conveys his sprouting emotional maturity. Through the use of these devices, Judd Mulvaney is characterized as a young, coming-of-age boy, suddenly aware of the brevity of
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