Am I Missing Something?

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"She gazed with stony unrecognition at the face that confronted her in the dark yellow-spotted mirror ever the table" (A Stroke of Good Fortune O'Connor pg 63).

   When I read it, I could not help but think of Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor because somewhere in the book (I looked but could not find it) it mentions that looking into a mirror is always self inspection.  Here, Ruby is looking at herself and realizing how old she looked and felt at the ripe old age of thirty-four.  She knows she shouldn't look and feel this old but then later she compares herself to her mother and realizes that she looks better than her mother looked at her age.  This family must have some bad genes because at thirty-four, you should still look and feel pretty good.  She should not look withered at all and unlike her mother, O'Connor never really gives a reason for Ruby looking as old as she does.  She does talk about the mother's children taking a lot out of her.  This scene kind of makes me laugh and think of Borat the movie.  His mom is in her early 40s but she looks like 80.  Obviously, this woman isn't that old in real life but it helped me imagine Ruby's character. 

   Here's where I admit that I did not like this story that much.  Compared to A Good Man is Hard to FindThe River, and The Life You Save May Be Your Own this story did not really stick out.  The other stories had a surprising element to them, this one, not so much.  Am I missing something?  The man Mr. Jerger reminded me of Dr. Jerz because the similarity in names. haha

3 Comments

Angelica Guzzo said:

I forgot about Borat. haha. I agree that she shouldn't look that old for her age. She is sick and sometimes that takes a tool on one's health, but I'm not sure it makes someone look that much older.

Ally Hall said:

I actually wrote a blog about age and beauty, because aren't we all just a little self-conscious sometimes?
But I agree with you - this story didn't really stick out all that much. I guess the pregnancy was somewhat of a surprise, at least to Ruby. But no one died. Sure, no one really lived happily ever after either, but compared to other O'Connor stories, this WAS the happily ever after.

Erica Gearhart said:

Really great point Angela. Your comments made me think that maybe O'Connor did give us reasons, albeit non-obvious ones, for Ruby's aged appearance. Ruby is not happy, she worries too much about the past, and she is not healthy. When I am unhappy, I look and feel it. Just imagine being unhappy all the time. When we are little, our parents tell us not to frown because then we would get wrinkles. And what to wrinkles symbolize? Old age. She also worries too much about her past and about ending up like her mother. Guess what, by worring about becoming like her mother, she did become like her mother-an old looking worrisome person who only thinks about what can't happen instead of living her live to the fullest. Also, she was not healthy. She has trouble climbing a few flights of stairs. Granted, I am out of breath when I make it to the top of Admin., but I never have to stop to catch my breath or complain about pains all over my body (this could have also been a product of her pregnancy, but she still says that she felt this way before she was pregnant). These three ideas together would make anyone look older than they should. Ruby should just learn to move on and to enjoy the life that she has been given.

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