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De Nittis (2008) observes that Oates places special significance on the issue of subordination of women and the feminist perspective of our male-dominated society. She finds that the story displays the theme of violence, especially on females and "male characters are the perpetrators of violence, often physical violence, upon females" (De Nittis 7).
Apart from the fact that the story describes issues of violence against women, there is also the integration of fantasy over reality among young girls and how the society responds to it. It can be noted that Connie constantly displays narcissistic acts by always looking at herself at the mirror, fixing her hair time and again, and would act as if she is a matured woman and experienced with men. The repudiation comes directly from her mother who often scolds her for being so immature and contrary to her sister, June. This is where the issue of fantasy versus reality comes into play: because women toil so much in order to be recognized at a certain level by certain male categories, particularly matured men, the society reacts the against it by considering girls as sexual fantasies rather than respectable women.
Oates finds a surface realism wherein she deems Arnold friend as a "symbolic Satan" (Christle 1). The roots of Connie, and females in general, being a recipient of sexual violence is because female sexuality has always been perceived based on the masculine parameters (2). For instance, it is as if that being beautiful is all that really matters for Connie - when she sees herself nicely in the mirror, she would think that she would get the kind of recognition she wants from boys. This is always ironic in a sense that the more females define their sexuality in terms of beauty and attractiveness, the more male are going to treat them indecently; and that is the sad
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