45 pages 1 hour read

Caroline Kepnes

You

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2014

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Character Analysis

Joe Goldberg

Joe Goldberg is the protagonist and narrator of You, but he is far from a hero. As an obsessive stalker and killer, he is relentless in his pursuit of Guinevere Beck, determined to make her love him regardless of her desires. The audience’s insight into Joe is very different from the Joe known to the other characters. To most characters, Joe seems like an unassuming, uninteresting person. He has no college degree and comes from a poor background, so many of the wealthy and educated characters dismiss him out of hand. This attitude frustrates Joe who knows that he is better read than many college-educated people his age and believes himself to be more intelligent than his richer, more successful peers. The Joe whom the audience knows through his narration differs vastly from the mild-mannered bookstore employee. In reality, Joe is cold, calculating, and unbridled by morality. Only by reading his private thoughts through his narration can the audience understand the real Joe Goldberg and realize that his violence is partly motivated by a desire to push back against the world’s view of him as inconsequential and uneducated. Even if society casts Joe aside, he frames himself as the protagonist in his own story; everyone else is subhuman and peripheral.

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By Caroline Kepnes