62 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

We Were the Mulvaneys

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Part 2, Chapters 22-28Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 2: “The Huntsman”

Chapter 22 Summary: “One by One”

Soon after Marianne’s rape, the Mulvaney children begin to leave the farm and the area. Mike Jr., having proved to be an unreliable worker for his father, joins the Marines without telling anybody, breaking Corinne’s heart. Marianne is already living 100 miles away with Corinne’s cousin, and even though Corinne calls her every Sunday night, Michael is never home to talk to her. Marianne no longer feels like part of the family; when Judd protests that Dad should not hate her because the rape “isn’t Marianne’s fault!” (194), Patrick replies that “it isn’t Dad’s fault, either” (194). Patrick left for Cornell in September 1976 and rarely visits home. 

Chapter 23 Summary: “Valedictory Speech”

Patrick is valedictorian of his class, a talented student even though he is distant and unsociable with his peers. Asked to give a speech, Patrick is unsure what to do. On graduation day, Corinne basks in Patrick’s success, even though Michael is somber. Judd notices other parents openly avoiding their family: “Are we lepers? We, Mulvaneys?—lepers?” (198); in contrast, Zach’s parents, the Lundts, are “talking and laughing with friends” (200). Michael leaves the auditorium before Patrick’s appearance, and suddenly a stink bomb goes off, creating panic, causing people to vomit and choke.