I fully prepared myself for the disturbing factor going into this title story from Joyce Carol Oates’ collection Dear Husband,. I couldn’t help but read this story’s background in the inside cover of the edition I borrowed from my library. If a reader truly does not want any SPOILERS, don’t read this post or the inside cover of the collection.
This is another story that comes in letter format – one long letter from Lauri Lynn to her husband. The beginning line of the letter sets the tone for the whole story:
Let no man cast asunder what God hath brought together, is my belief.
Lauri Lynn then tells him how she drowned their five children in the bathtub.
As the woman relays the events, she reveals the atrocities of physical abuse she receives from her husband, the mental abuse she receives from his family, and the spiritual abuse she receives from their specific brand of Fundamentalist Christianity.
Oates’ story deftly portrays the mind of Lauri Lynn as a fully developed character; however, I may have found the story more intriguing if I had not been aware (via the inside cover) of how it was “ripped from the headlines”. I truly found the abuse suffered by Lauri Lynn abhorrent but, nevertheless, I had difficulty mustering up sympathy for her – which appears to be what Oates is attempting with this story.