62 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

We Were the Mulvaneys

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Part 4, Chapter 41-EpilogueChapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “Hard Reckoning”

Chapter 41 Summary: “The White Horse”

Michael’s life has changed drastically, culminating in his leaving the unbearably faithful Corinne and moving to Rochester, but feeling “they were gone. The Mulvaneys who bore his name, not just the kids but the woman, too” (381). He lives a confused life, drinking heavily, unable to hold a job working for other men. He slowly loses his health, as Corinne keeps worrying about him from afar. Michael believes his children have betrayed him.

In August 1986, he has dinner with Mike, who is shocked to see his father so decrepit. Mike Jr. tells him he is about to be married, but the words flow in and out of Michael’s ravaged mind. He gets into an argument with Mike Jr. about the marines, in response to Mike’s dogged respect for military order. Michael also has a vague idea that he once owned and rode a white horse, even though Mike Jr. cannot remember. At the end of the night, Mike Jr. gives him some money and half-carries him to his shabby and dirty room. Michael experiences a vision of riding the white horse, followed by his children on their horses, while Corinne looks on and waves happily.