Edited By Josefa Ros Velasco
7 Anhedonia, Dysthymia, and Tristasia: Depressed Characters in Alice McDermott’s Novels (Gail Shanley Corso (Neumann University, Pennsylvania))
7 Anhedonia, Dysthymia, and Tristasia: Depressed Characters in Alice McDermott’s Novels
Gail Shanley Corso
Neumann University, Pennsylvania
Characters from literature who experience complications from love and loss often exhibit depression1 in its many forms. Such is the case for characters in novels by Alice McDermott. These characters may resort to pretense and lies as a means to cope with loss, or silences to avoid shame for their family or themselves, as in Charming Billy (1998); they may become unable to respond appropriately in situations, or they may have a sense of confused identity about their self-worth or relationships to others, as in A Bigamist’s Daughter (1982). Some underlying guilt or unresolved emotional pain often underscores narratives of such characters, as in Child of My Heart (2002). While some might experience memory loss of cultural identity, as in Charming Billy, others experience a heightened remembrance of specific incidents in their life or in the life of someone whose memory they cherish. In such reminiscences, a character as a first-person narrator, or a community of narrators returns to a specific incident or two, or peak moments2 through which they frame their beliefs and values. In That Night (1987), Someone (2013), and The Ninth Hour (2017a), peak moments surface in the cyclical structure of the stories, in those significant memories that the narrators select to retell. Through these moments, the readers recognize a character’s moment of awakening about self, and the storytellers’ understanding of the...
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