62 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

We Were the Mulvaneys

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Part 3, Chapters 34-40Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “The Pilgrim”-Part 4: “Hard Reckoning”

Chapter 34 Summary: “Tears”

Corinne finally calls Marianne, saying her father is ready to see her, a call Marianne has been awaiting for years. Taught that crying is attention-seeking, Marianne has come up with “shrewd tactic[s] for disguising her tears” (308), always afraid of putting pressure on others to comfort her, because “If you accept kindness undeserved, even worse will happen to you” (309).

Chapter 35 Summary: “Green Isle”

Marianne feels a lot of pain due to her family’s rejection, at times wondering aloud, “Don’t you love me?—I’d thought you all loved me” (311). She throws herself into hard work in the Green Isle Co-op, neglecting her studies. Her guiding motto becomes a line by Charlotte Bronte, “Out of obscurity I came—to obscurity I can easily return” (313). Abelove begins to trust her with more activities, which Marianne performs exceedingly well. Abelove shares with her his experiences in starting the commune and seeking sponsors, and Marianne often wonders if she has developed romantic feelings for him. 

Chapter 36 Summary: “The Pilgrim”

Marianne never speaks of her home, but one day she receives a call at the co-op from Aunt Ethel, telling her grandmother Ida Hausmann has died. She also tells her, “Corinne does not want you to come to her mother’s funeral, please don’t ask me why” (324).