Kelly Kelleher's Lessons In Joyce Carol Oates Black Water

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In Joyce Carol Oates’ novella Black Water, Kelly Kelleher finds herself hypnotized by the charming, suave Senator. Her fondness for the “man in the prime of his career” (26) causes her to choke on the black water and die. Even though Kelly chooses to run off with the Senator, she is not at fault for her decision to accompany him. The Senator abuses his powerful position to manipulate Kelly. His untouchable status as U.S. Senator allows him to act without consequence or regret. The Senator neglects Kelly’s notion that the road they’re driving on is the wrong one, and his arrogance is exhibited by his insistence to drink and drive. The Senator’s hubris generates both of these aberrations. Moreover, when the accident occurs, he seamlessly covers…show more content…
First, though, she would work for his nomination at the Democratic national convention. In the intimacy of the bouncing Toyota, her senses glazed by the day’s excitement, it was possible for Kelly Kelleher, who rarely indulged in fantasies, to give herself up to this one. (26) This is her chance; this is her moment; this is what she’s waited for. It would be uncharacteristic of the ambitious girl to spurn the opportunity to meet her greatest influence. Kelly knows it too; she thinks to herself, “If I don’t do as he asks there won’t be any later” (7). Ultimately, Kelly is just another girl to The Senator; nothing drastically stands out about her. This becomes most apparent when The Senator calls Ray Annick after the accident. He says, “The girl was drunk, and she got emotional, she grabbed at the wheel and the car swerved off the road” (147). The cunning Senator does what politicians do best: lie. Yet there’s no consequence to his lie; the other witness is dead. Given The Senator’s elite status, no questions will be asked about his involvement. While Kelly is dying, she still imagines that he will save her; after all, he’s mesmerized Kelly to get in the car with him in spite of the fact he’s drunk. She hallucinates, “And yet: he was diving into the black water, diving to the car, his fingers outspread on the cracked windshield” (152). Unfortunately for Kelly, The Senator preserves his prestige…show more content…
The Senator has been venerated by Kelly throughout her whole life; she knows nearly everything about him. Kelly’s one dream has been to meet The Senator. She gets to meet him, and he chooses her. Kelly is overwhelmed by the allure of the politician. When she goes to get in the car with him, Kelly chooses to overlook his heavy drinking, instead focusing on the singular chance she’s been granted. Alcohol clouds The Senator’s judgment as he turns onto the old, abandoned road. Kelly notices the faux pas but refuses to initially say anything. When she was younger, she made her father angry for talking back to him. When she cautions The Senator about their predicament, he not only insists that he’s got a grasp on the situation, but also exerts his lure onto the innocent girl. Throughout the story, The Senator is always engrossing, even during Kelly’s final moments. She is convinced that he will rescue her from the black water; he doesn’t. Instead The Senator calls Ray Annick telling him that Kelly provoked the calamity. Overall, The Senator’s prowess as a politician, specializing in deceit and charm, coerces Kelly into getting in his car, resulting in a

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