Passage In Joyce Carol Oates's 'We Were The Mulvaneys'

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Everybody will die eventually, and every one of your heartbeats brings you closer to death. This is Judd Mulvaney’s recurring thought and the theme of the excerpt from the novel, We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates. Set in the Mulvaneys’ driveway overlooking the brook, the excerpt gives an insight of the thoughts of Judd Mulvaney. Judd is hypnotized by the water and has an epiphany that makes him realize something terrible. In order to characterize Judd, Oates uses different literary techniques throughout the passage.
One of the literary devices Oates uses is motifs. As Judd looks at the flowing water, he loses himself in his own heartbeat and thinks “Every heartbeat is past and gone!” (Oates 21). He is realizing that every heartbeat of his could be his last and he will never get it back. This thought recurs two more times in the passage, and shows Judd has a pessimistic view of life. Knowing this, it occurs to Judd for the first time that he would eventually die. He thinks to himself, “I did not believe Judd Mulvaney could die” (Oates 34). This thought arises again when realizes that …show more content…

At the start of the passage, Oates uses dark imagery and gloomy words. He describes the scene as “Sky the color of lead and the light mostly drained” (Oates 4). This imagery suggests a gloomy scene and corresponds with the morbid thought Judd has. After the first occurrence of Judd’s deathly thought, Oates illustrates the scene again, “A light gritty film of snow on the ground, darkest in the crevices where you’d expect shadow so it was like a film negative” (Oates 28). This also highlights the dark thoughts of Judd. Lastly, Oates depicts one of the trees as being partly dead. This relates to Judd’s idea that everyone is partly dead. The imagery used in this passage reflects Judd’s thoughts and further characterizes him by creating a feeling of gloominess towards

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