It makes me think though, about the role of the audience/observer in the entertainment process. As I get older, I am realizing that the things that I find the most entertaining are those that I feel contain a piece of me, that are about me on some level. Reading this book is no exception.
One of the main characters in the book, a girl who was basically forced to leave her home at seventeen, takes a pet with her when she moves away. The pet eventually dies, and it really upset me. Until I realized what the F@#$ was going on with me.
It all comes back to Socrates.
When I was a senior in high school, my mother decided that she wanted to move. She sent me to live with my dad, assuming that I could drive back and forth to school (Dad didn't live in my school district and this was before any schools of choice legislation). In October, my car died, and my dad, faced with no other choice, had to move me back into the house where I had lived with Mom, which was now being rented by friends of the family (technically, the mother of my niece and a friend of hers). Being a stranger, an outsider, in the house you had lived in all your life, the home you came home from the hospital to, was a very difficult experience. But I had Socrates, my orange cat that mom had decided to leave at the house with Nikki, as he was a hard-core country cat.
Two or three years later, when Socrates died, I spent an entire day in bed, unable to get past my grief for someone who had been such a rock for me during other times of grief. Socrates's coat dried more tears of mine than a kleenex ever did. He's the only pet I still miss, after all this time.
So I can understand how Marianne Mulvaney needed to go to great lengths to help Muffin, how losing him would have meant losing a part of herself. Kudos to Joyce Carol Oates, the author, for capturing this sentiment so accurately.