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'Them': how does the first chapter introduce us to the characters of the novel and how does it reflect Oates's style?

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  1. One of the main characters and the historical context of the 30's
  2. J.C. Oates's style of writing
    1. Long descriptions in prose, few dialogues in colloquial language
    2. A naturalistic novel?

The following is an extract from J.C Oates's novel "Them". It was published in 1969 and won the "National Book award fiction" in 1970.
Even though Oates states in the foreword to the book that the story is based on a real family the novel is fictional. Most of it takes place in Detroit and covers a period which goes from the 1930's to the 1960's and it deals with the struggle of three characters : Loretta and her children Maureen and Jules who are trying to live the American dream.

[...] On the second page Oates also introduces a third figure, that of the father, even though he is briefly evoked firstly from line 22 to 25 and then on page during the dialogue, the reader get's the impression that the father is an absent and unreliable figure. J.C. Oates's style of writing : Long descriptions in prose, few dialogues in colloquial language : As we can see in this extract, there are more descriptions than dialogues. We have said before that the descriptions are about the characters, their thoughts and their appearance. They are written in prose and are very precise, depicting everything in great detail. [...]


[...] We have therefore thought that it would be interesting to ask ourselves the following question : How does the first chapter introduce us to the characters of the novel and how does it reflect Oates's style? We will first of all examine the introduction to the main characters and the historical context and second of all J.C. Oates's style of writing. One of the main characters and the historical context of the 30's: The first chapter of the novel opens with the indication of a precise date: August 1937.As we have already mentioned in the introduction Oates's novel covers a period which goes from the 1930's to the 1960's. [...]

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