Summary Of Three Girls By Oates

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“It was like a child’s game in which you stare at foliage, grass, clouds in the sky, and suddenly you see a face or a figure, and after that recognition you can’t not see the hidden shape, its staring you in the face.” (Oates, 95)
Oates’ “Three Girls” tells the story of two “girl-poets” in the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan on a snowy day in March of 1956. They wander through the aisles of poetry, with commentary about various poets and collections of poetries and how they reflected on the “girl-poets”. “We were girl-poets passionately enamored of T.S. Eliot but scornful of Robert Frost, whom we’d been made to memorize in high school-Slyly we communicated in code phrases from Eliot in the presence of obtuse others in our dining hall and residence.” (Oates, 92) Suddenly she is pulled from her thoughts, as her friend touches her wrist and guides her further into the store to stumble upon Marilyn Monroe. From here, the “girl-poets” follow her discretely, with a commentary of how Monroe’s discretion was so much different form how she was normally seen. She was, at that moment, not a “garnish blond showgirl”, but rather “this woman was an individual wholly absorbed in selecting, leafing through, pausing to read books” (Oates, 93) They continue to follow her until she reaches the storefront, where they volunteer to pay for her books to keep the secret of her being here. From there they return her books to her outside, with her gifting them the “Selected Poems of Marianne Moore” before departing. The story closes with the two “girl-poets” sharing their first kiss.
The chosen quote, (“It was like a child’s game in which you stare at foliage, grass, clouds in the sky, and suddenly you see a face or a figure, and after that recognition you can’t not see the hidden shape, its staring you in the face.” (Oates, 95)) plays not only to the main plot of the story (the “girl-poets” discovering Marilyn Monroe in the Strand Bookstore), but also to the subplot (the “girl-poets” sharing their first kiss and becoming lovers) as well. It applies to the main plot very clearly through two sides: that though by this point in the story only the “girl-poets” have discovered it is Monroe, the realization that others could at moment’s

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