Humor in Lorrie Moor's 'You are Ugly, Too' essay paper

The short story You’re Ugly Too was first published in the fiscal year 1989. This was Lorrie Moor’s second collection of short stories. It was the first short story to be published in the New Yorker magazine. The short story is about a girl named Zoe Hendricks, a professor who is unmarried and who lives alone in Paris. The short story analyzes her relationships with students, men, her sister, and general life. The sequence of events in the story is sparse, and the author employs jokes and gags to ensure that there is s a flow in the story. This essay seeks to look into the use of jokes in the short story by Lorrie Moor.

The opening sentence of the short story commences with a comic picture of the present intellectuals who attempt to survive in the midst of a culture of Middle America. This is seen in the phrase, “……. those Illinois towns with the funny names: Paris, Oblong, and Normal. Once, when the Dow Jones dipped two hundred points, the Paris paper boasted a banner headline: NORMAL MAN MARRIES OBLONG WOMAN. They knew what was important. They did! But you had to get out once in a while, even if   it was just across the border to Terre Haute, for a movie” (Moor 1991, 67). This sense of humor has been said to betray the intellectual elitism. This opening passage is the narrator’s voice. The first word, which the author employs, is you. This makes the audience participate in humor that the author attempts to create.

The phrase “You are Ugly” may be set in the category of humor too. This phrase is found in the opening paragraph and also is present in one of the two units. In the first level of the sentences, the author employs crackling similes to depict humor. For instance, when he commemorates the day his daughter buys a house, Zoe’s mother sends her a box of decorating magazines. These magazines had been saved up over many years, and Zoe describes this as her mother’s old pornography. In addition, she sees these magazines as fantasies that are drooled upon and an endless wish and teases that had taken place in her life. In another example, Zoe’s visit to her sister in Manhattan high-rise on one Halloween weekend makes her think how unnatural it is to live up to the sky. In another example, humor is illustrated at a Halloween party thrown by her sister in Manhattan. Zoe's costume is a bonehead, and she describes it in the following words, “This thing that looks like a giant bone going through your head” (Moor 1991, 71). At the party, Zoe meets a man called Earl, who is wearing the costume of a naked woman. In their conversation on the balcony, Zoe notices at one point that “His pubic hair slid over to one hip, like a corsage on a saloon girl” (Moor 1991, 86).

In this way, the short story has been able to depict various aspects of humor.  Through the main character Zoe, the author has been able to employ humor as a mechanism of defense. In addition, the jokes depict the inner worries that exist in the life of Zoe. These problems make Zoe feel bitter, and, in the process, she portrays her annoyance with life and the reality of things. The loneliness that exists in Zoe’s life resulted in many challenges which are seen by employing humor.

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