The quick story, “Life ~ High School” by Joyce Carol Oates, is set in the small town of southern Lebanon, new York in 1959. The first three quarters of the story is the tragic tale of one-sided love whereby Zachary Graff, the intelligent but socially aer teenager falls in love v Sunny Burhman, the attractive and popular girl that everyone adores. She rejects his proposal and he can’t take it it and also decides to take his own life. Later, we discover out his real love was Tobias, his one friend.

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His love for clear was his last method to to the right in through the norms of society. Oates reflects us the intertwined lives of three high institution students and also the paths taken to free themselves that the entrapment of your uncomfortable 1950s standard lifestyles.

Barbara “Sunny” Burhman is known as the popular too good to be true Christian girl in the story. She was every little thing the perfect, all American 1950’s girl was an alleged to be.


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In the start of the story she is described as ‘Sunny’ since her 6th grade teacher argued calling she this due to the fact that of her sunny personality. “Tell you what, boys and girls – let’s speak to Barbara ‘Sunny’ from currently on – it is what she is” (Oates 512). Sunny’s flexibility came by Zachary taking his very own life. “The irony had actually not escaped Barbara Burhman that, in casting away his young life for this reason recklessly, Zachary Graff had freed her for hers” (Oates 518). She autumn the name Sunny and just goes by Barbara Burhman.

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as soon as she goes off to institution she excels in college and also solely functions on academics. She drops every the “Sunny” elements of she life the trapped her and also she ended up being a reputation teacher and also author.

There was no place for an agnostic happy male choose Tobias Shanks in a 1950’s small town high school and also he is forced to lead his life in secrecy. After Zachary’s death Tobias Shank’s an enig is for sure from his other high institution students. Tobias, prefer Barbara, alters his name after high school and goes through T.R. Shanks. Uneven Barbara, the writer doesn’t permit us recognize Tobias’ exact point the his liberty from the restrictions of the 50’s lifestyle, however it go come. It probably comes after ~ the changing times the the 60’s and 70’s. T.R. Is able come come out and find his location in the human being as a gay man. That goes on to end up being a effective playwright and also director winning plenty of awards

Oates leads united state to believe that in the beginning of the story Zachary is a typical awkward intellectual that drops in love through the perfect girl in his high school. In reality, his true love is his one girlfriend Tobias, however the border of the 1950’s lifestyle led Zachary to believe that clear was his perfect choice. Increase until fatality Zachary to be conflicted. Once both Sunny and also Tobias disapprove him, fatality seems his only method to freedom. Oates gives some additional insight around Zachary’s think by telling the reader the materials of his car after his suicide. The author, by her quirky ending, left it as much as the reader to decide the Zachary may have actually contemplated other scenarios that possibly wouldn’t have been appropriate with the 50’s perfect life style. In Zachary’s suicide note he takes responsibility and releases every parties of any guilt. This suggests that that did feeling constrained through the 50’s way of life to the really end.

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Oates write a story about three high institution students of the 1950’s that students that today have the right to empathize with. Although over there still may be other worries of acceptance, the time period in i m sorry the story is put was particularly conservative time. Suicide, homosexuality, and women playing vital roles in culture outside the house were not component of the social norm of the 50’s. This day these problems are much an ext accepted. Oates mirrors us the linked lives of 3 students and also the paths taken to complimentary themselves that the entrapment of your uncomfortable 1950s typical lifestyles.

Literary analysis “Life after High School”. (2016, Apr 16). Retrieved from


Literary evaluation “Life after High School”. (2016, Apr 16). Retrieved from