Life After High School Character Analysis

Decent Essays

High school: a place of acceptance, growth, and love. Life After High School by Joyce Carol Oates takes place in the small town of South Lebanon, New York in 1959. Oates details the lives of three students: Zachary Graff, Barbara “Sunny” Burhrman, and Tobias Shank. Zachary struggles with finding love; both Sunny and Tobias turn him down during the rough times of the 1950’s, and Zachary’s struggle ultimately leads to his death. Throughout the stories the three characters mask themselves behind a happier and fitter version of themselves; the hide behind religion, lies, and stereotypes. Oates writes in a third person limited point of view to reveal the theme of hiding one's identity is destructive. Oates creates a perspective of literary fiction to reveal the emotion of what the characters feel, think, and act.
Through a third person limited point of view, Oates exposes the mental and emotional struggles the characters face in Life After High School; and their growth while overcoming the challenges faced. The short story is written through Sunny, a dynamic character; whatever she knows, we also know. Sunny is described as sweet and kind with an “astonishing smile” which implies how she got her name. Sunny symbolizes the stereotypical high school student, “popular, confident, good-looking, club officer, prom queen” (574) To her classmates she's is seen as the “All American girl too good to be true who is nonetheless TRUE” (577) Although Sunny represents an all American girl; she

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