Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

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Karen Joy Fowler depicts a family heavily impacted by an experiment to raise a chimpanzee as their own in her 2013 novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Fowler illustrates how even though leading character Rosemary attempts to hide her monkey-like attributes, her animality is ultimately unveiled. Through Rosemary’s need for attention, shown through her physicality and impulsive choices, she evinces her animal-like characteristics. Growing up perpetually being in the arms of her beloved chimpanzee sister produced Rosemary’s desperation for physicality. Her longing to have bodily contact is enforced throughout the novel and in various stages of her development. Subsequent to Fern’s departure, Rosemary felt her lose in a physical way …show more content…

She strives to appear as normal her in class, but “those five- and six-year olds were not fooled by the counterfeit human” when she would put her fingers in their mouths and hair (Fowler 102). In her experimental household, she and Fern were studied and encouraged to have physical contact. Therefore, Rosemary presumed holding onto her peers would help her gain the attention she received at home. Correspondingly, readers learn about Rosemary’s sexual life and her difficulties with continuing relationships. Readers can infer that her need for physical contact urges her to start sexual relationships she knows will not succeed as she announces that “the bar for sexual partners is much, much lower” than for friends (Fowler 148). This enforces the notion of her need for attention being brought throughout desire, physical touch. This notion is also exhibited when Rosemary’s brother, Lowell, comes to visit her. When she finds Lowell and Harlow flirting carelessly in a restaurant awaiting her, she is flushed with jealousy and automatically brought back to her childhood when Fern and Lowell would out climb her on a tree. Sitting next to the brother she ached for and having all the attention go towards Harlow made her increasingly …show more content…

When Harlow marches into a college cafeteria in a fit, Rosemary tries to stay quiet and not draw attention to herself. After numerous dishes and chairs are thrown in rage by Harlow, Rosemary’s inner animal starts to appear as she “threw the glass of milk onto the floor” without thinking (Fowler 10). To gain the attention of the mysterious Harlow, she “didn’t just let it go, [she] threw that glass down as hard as [she] could” (Fowler 10). This plays into her need for attention as she knew Harlow would be intrigued; therefore, possibly having someone to make friends with that also exhibited monkey-like attributes. Readers can also note her impulsiveness when without thinking about the consequences, Rosemary cries out to her parents about how Fern frightens her. Although the reason Fern was ultimately sent away has many more grounds, Rosemary thought she would be gone with just her remark, even though for years she would miss her sister Fern more than anything. Furthermore, Rosemary follows Lowell on numerous occasions in hopes he will begin to care for her more than Fern. As she was the only one small enough to fit through the dog door, she climbed through and “did it for love” (Fowler 74). This shows how Rosemary will do impulsive acts in order to please others and receive the attention and love she craves from them. As a result of these points, it is evident that Rosemary acts on impulse in order to

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