62 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

We Were the Mulvaneys

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Part 1, Chapters 7-13Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “Family Pictures”

Chapter 7 Summary: “Providence”

Corinne’s favorite story from her childhood is about the accident her mother and she had when Corinne was seven years old. It happened in December 1938; her mother insisted they visit her sick sister in “a battered old 1931 Dodge” (57). During their journey back, a blizzard started; the car went into a spin on a plank bridge and overturned into a drainage ditch, luckily frozen solid. They crawled out of the car, but soon got lost in the blizzard, and Corinne’s mother swore divine providence led them to a closed school because they saw fireflies, which showed the way. They broke in and lit a fire, surviving until a rescue team found them almost a day later. The whole family would laugh at Corinne’s story and her belief in providence, but she held on to it. 

Chapter 8 Summary: “Strawberries & Cream”

At the farm there are many clocks that all tell different times, which Marianne loves, but that Sunday after the prom, “she took up the clock suddenly, wanting to bury it under her pillow to smother its snug tick-tick-ticking” (67). She hides the torn and bloodstained satin dress in the back of the closet and throws everything else from her bag into the trash.