They All Just Went Away Summary

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They all Just Went Away PAST
Purpose: Joyce Carol Oates purpose for writing this personal narrative was share an experience from her youth that has affected her to this day. She recalls back to her younger years where one family was subjected to seemingly endless criticism and judgement solely based on rumors then transitions to her interactions with a member of that family many years later. She discusses how she believed the rumors to be true at one point even though there was no evidence to support them. Oates sought to illustrate the effect of rumors and the validity of that information on the subject at hand. Oates reminisces back to when she was a child wandering the fields and abandoned buildings behind her home. As she explores these abandoned structures, she takes notice of the “remnants of a lost household” within this “absolute emptiness of a house whose
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In the narrative, Oates recalls her high school years in which she reconnects with Ruth Weidel, who gave teachers the implication that “something had happened” and how they “treated her guardedly” (Oates 561). This ties into the theme of the individual versus society. When she lived with her family, Ruth and the rest of her family were treated as outcasts and were talked about behind their backs. Now in high school, she remained alone until Oates worked up the nerve to befriend. Something had caused her to mature quickly and in the midst of that growth, Ruth created a barrier to protect herself from anymore pain. She stands alone against a society that casted her out, and despite making a friend, she could not lower that barrier entirely. This shows the strength an individual needs to stand against society. Society does not accept those who do not conform to its standards, so one needs to be able to stand tall against its pressures without casting aside all that they stand
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