Female Characters In Joyce Carol Oates 'American Appetites'

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Through characterization and vilification, Joyce Carol Oates emphasizes both the wickedness and vulnerability of her female characters. Although Oates’s writing is predominantly seen as feministic or through a feminist lens, Oates says she is "very sympathetic with most of the aims of feminism, but cannot write feminist literature because it is too narrow, too limited” (Chell). While Oates may not directly say she writes feministic literature, the topics she writes about include the recognition of the difficulties specific to a female writer according to Chell. In many of her novels, her writing can actually be seen as both feminist and antifeminist due to her use of diction and characterization. The main character in the novel American Appetites, is Glynnis McCullough. Although she dies fairly early in the book, her character is is extremely vital to the story. Glynnis represents the stereotypical female character that is seen in Oates’s writing; she is happily married…show more content…
Glynnis is no longer seen in the image of a victimized house wife; she is now the antagonist, “Glynnis is angry” ( American Appetites 51). All the anger and hatred that Glynnis directed at Ian came from Glynnis’s self hatred. Glynnis had an affair with Ian’s best friend. Even though Glynnis knows she was in the wrong, she refuses to accept it. She must take her blame and put it upon the shoulders of her husband. Through word choice and plot, the reader now feels angry with Glynnis. She is throwing blind accusations at her husband, isolating herself from all her friends and losing connection with her daughter. Oates describes her as a wayward wife. Her husband pushes her out of the window yet he is still seen as sane and sensible. While the other characters in the novel are rooting for Ian, hoping he is not sentenced to jail, Ian “would not make of his wife whom he loved a drunken frenzied knife-wielding woman, to save his own skin” (American

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