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"How to Be the Other Woman"

The subject matter of Lorrie Moore's "How to Be the Other Woman" is clearly feminist in nature, but the way the story is structured is also a feminist statement, placing the reader in the mind of the protagonist in an immediate way and forcing the reader to share the pain and humiliation of being "the other woman." This is accomplished through direct experience of the different aspects of the issue rather than through any direct rhetoric on the part of the protagonist. That is, the speaker does not denounce the male involved or even discuss openly her own feelings. Rather, the woman recounts events and makes them personal by placing them first in the present tense and second by using the pronoun "you" to involve the reader as she speaks of herself through this pronoun. That not only makes the experience more immediate, but it also generalizes the events and the feelings involved. The use of "you" in this fashion makes this seem to be a recounting of what always happens in such relationships, as indeed it is intended to so.

Many of the events of the relationship have certainly been told before, but here they are collected in one consciousness and made to seem fresh by the way they are presented. The way the story is told is episodic, a series of interactions between the woman and her lover, or between the woman and her situation. The woman is subservient to the man. She is "the other woman," and the use of that terms conjures images of a femme fatale intent on stealing husbands, a woman without feelings of her own who has all the benefits and none of the problems. Yet, this is not the picture that emerges from this story, nor does the story make the woman seem to be simply a victim. She indeed participates in her own degradation, aware all the time of what is happening and yet never pulling back from the affair. The story is told in present tense, but it is still told as a remembrance. This is evident in the first section...

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"How to Be the Other Woman". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:48, April 26, 2019, from