In Joyce Carol Oates’s short story, Life After High School, the character’s wear masks to fit into the late 1950’s strict society that accompany them throughout the story. As the other character’s masks begin to unravel; Zach is fixated on living a normal life that his mask inevitably ends his existence. While Zach’s mental instability ends his life, his obsession saves Sunny and Tobias by removing their veils before it was too late.
Essay Example on Life After High School Oates
The main character Zachary Graff, a typical awkward teenager, excels greatly in school, but Zach’s intelligence masks his mental instability. He falls in love with the perfect, ideal, girl in high school. In reality, Zachary loves his best friend Tobias, but the constraints of the 1950’s judgmental society led him to believe that Sunny would be the perfect choice to portray a heterosexual character. He lived a conflicted life up until his death, after being rejected by both Sunny and Tobias, he felt as though death was his only way to freedom. Zach owns a 1956 Plymouth which is envied by many; this represents the masculinity that Zachary lacks. The irony is seen when the car becomes Zach’s coffin instead of expressing his sexuality. Zach expresses little to no interest in girls other than Sunny. His classmates remember him as almost antisocial, some even called him a loner. Zachary shunned sports but claims to have a liking to golf which suggests that even though he lacked talent in the sport, it was accepted by his father.
Barbara “Sunny” Bushman, known as the popular, “too good to be true” Christian. She represents the perfect, All-American 1950’s girl. Sunny can tell that Zach has become infatuated with her by the way he lingers around the school a little too long just to drive her home. Sunny, a devout Christian, flattered by Zachary’s gestures, unfortunately, knows that she can not tell Zachary to get lost. It just simply is not in her vocabulary after being given the ni…