Comparison on "Song of Songs" by Ellen Gilchrist and "Shopping" by Joyce Carol Oates

Essay by cocopaiUniversity, Master'sA+, March 2003

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Unconditional Love

What is love? Love is a very special and meaningful word to each human being. Unconditional love is a special type of love that can happen when each person accepts each others without hesitation. In most families, the bond between parents and child is one of unconditional love. However, not all families' relationships are ideal. In the two short stories "Shopping" by Joyce Carol Oates and "Song of Songs" by Ellen Gilchrist, the main characters in each are lacking a sense of real love in their souls. They both experience emptiness in their hearts and are searching for unconditional love to fulfill their lives. Both women in the stories have suffered losses within their families. One has lost the love of a teenaged daughter who has gone astray. The other lost contact with her mother at an early age and is experiencing a lack of belonging.

Mrs. Dietrich, the protagonist in "Shopping," is a divorced woman who is seeking a love response from her 17 year old daughter, Nola.

One day before Nola goes back to school, Mrs. Dietrich and she go shopping. The mother hopes that by taking Nola shopping she will become more in touch with her daughter. During the shopping, Mrs. Dietrich keeps looking at Nola while she is enjoying trying on new clothes. Mrs. Dietrich shows a mother's love by seeing Nola growing up and turning into a young woman. However, when Nola discovers her mother staring at her, she shows her hatred on her face immediately and says, "Let me go. For Christ's sake will you let me go." Even though Nola says disrespectful and rude things to her mother, Mrs. Dietrich still forgives her as Nola is only 17 years old and at an unstable age. Nevertheless, when they are leaving the...