i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

You Ain't That Ugly

March 30, 2005

What struck me about Lorrie Moore's "You're Ugly, Too" was the way Zoe seemed to be so disconnected from everything around her. She seems hopelessly neurotic, that way that overly intelligent people seem to be because they are trapped inside their own heads too much. Her students aren't really people, just drones who sit in front of her each day.

Moore writes, "Her students were by and large good midwesterners, spacey with estrogen from large quantities of meats and eggs. They shared their parents' suburban values; their parents had given them things, things, things. They were complacent."

Zoe feels separate and distant from everyone in her life. She has become disillusioned. When a student comes to her searching for meaning, telling Zoe that she wants her major to "mean something." Zoe responds, "Well, there's your problem" as she shows the student to the door. She relates getting her mother's box of decorating magazines to getting a box of her mother's pornography - as if the act of sharing her mother's dreams was pornographic in nature - something nice people simply didn't do.

There are a lot of references to reproduction and related hormones in the piece, from the spacy midwesterners children to the "large, mysterious growth" in Zoe's abdomen to Earl's comment near the end: "Hormones sprayed around, and now men are screwing rocks. Rocks!"

What do you suppose all the talk of sexuality and relationships means in this story? Is Zoe's biological clock a'ticking or is there more to this than that? Is there a greater message to the piece? I'm curious as to what everyone thinks about this story.

Moira at 10:22 AM :: Comments (1) :: ::

I think that all of the sexual tension in this story has a lot to do with the fact that Zoe is scared. She doesn't really know what she wants, but knows that she does want it. I also think that all of this is coming to the surface more now because of all of the doctor's appointments that she has had to attend. She sees that she could potentially have a problem and that she may end up (worse case scenario) dying alone.

Posted by: Tiffany at March 31, 2005 04:50 PM
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