April 5, 2005

Lucy Loves in All the Wrong Places

untitled.bmp The editor of our textbook, The Best American Short Stories of the Century, John Updike says that "The Best Girlfriend You Never Had," "depicts a circle of friends drifting toward the millennium unfulfilled, wanting love, wanting more. The narrating heroine... is an immigrant, crossing not the Atlantic but the well-worn and weary continent, 'toward something like a real life.' Out of dreams, reality - and vice versa." Indeed, we see that the narrator, Lucy, is surrounded by people who all love someone who doesn't love them back. Lucy is naturally in the same boat as these and her sometimes humorous but more often saddening stories of love gone wrong remind the readers of their own past, I bet. Still, the narrator is optimistic, not yet totally disillusioned by either her age or her best friend's rather sobering comments that she has at least fifty-five steps between her current life and married life someday. Indeed, she ends her story with pretending to take "the first step toward something like a real life, the very first step toward something that will last." In a word, her marriage. Not that readers believe Lucy's marriage will turn out necessarily... Taken into consideration her previous track record with men, current confusion with her best friend, and even all of her agonizing memories of her father's inability to love, we are left with questioning the success of Lucy's eventual marriage. As Updike says, Lucy is floating in and out of dreams and reality. I'm concerned to see what would happen when the dream of Lucy's marriage turns into the chore of married life.

Trackback Link: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/mt/mt-tb1122.cgi/1556

Posted by JohnHaddad at April 5, 2005 5:55 AM | TrackBack

I just wanted Lucy to say "I love you" to him. Her father couldn't express love to her, but she needs to learn to express love to somebody she liks. Otherwise he doesn't know Lucy loves him. If she says how much she loves him, maybe he will love her, too.

Posted by: mina at April 6, 2005 6:39 PM

Mina is right--Lucy never had the love of her family expressed to her, so she can't be sure how to go about telling/showing Leo that she loves him... Go figure--that's probably all she'd have to say to get him to realize what he means to her.

I don't honestly think that Lucy will get married. She isn't proactive about her relationships and I can't see her tied to someone that isn't Leo. If her father had showed some approval of Jeffrey I think she would have married him, though.

Posted by: Karissa at April 7, 2005 11:19 AM

That’s different because when I read the short story, I thought that the ending, Lucille was going to the pound to get the dog which she talks about in the beginning of the story. She “takes the very first steps toward something that will last”. But I understand now re-reading it where she is under the Marriage arches, how her ‘first steps’ could be in the direction of marriage.

Posted by: KristenZappalla at April 7, 2005 4:40 PM

John, great point. Even I thought that she kept perpetuating the cycle of being pushed around because of the way her father treated her. I have to say though, that the story writer is a skilled humorist.

Posted by: Neha at April 8, 2005 11:38 AM
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