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Picturing Will by Ann Beattie
Transcript of Picturing Will by Ann Beattie
Millie Basden, Britney Calton, Melanie Hester, and Alicia Whitehead
EED 651-Spring 2016
Who is Will?
Will is a 5 year old boy whose mother, Jody, is a well-known photographer. His father, Wayne, only sees him once a year. Wayne abandoned them when Will was only a baby.
To get an idea of who Will really is, you must venture into the lives of the other people in his life: his mother, father, step-father (Mel), Corky (Wayne's wife), Haveabud, and Spencer. Capturing the events that unfold in this novel lead to life experiences that shape and mold who Will will eventually become.
During this section of the book, we journey with Will as he makes his way to see his biological father, Wayne, who lives in Florida. There are two parts of this section that will form ideas and reactions to life for Will.
- Will is left with Haveabud and Spencer for the afternoon due to Mel not feeling well. Haveabud takes the boys swimming and afterwards back to the hotel room. This is where Will in introduced with some very graphic and inappropriate behavior at the hands of Haveabud and Spencer. There is inappropriate touching and various other acts that should not take place with children. As you read, Will seems to know these things are wrong, but being young, really doesn’t know what to do to make them stop. After this part of the book, he doesn’t mention the acts that have been performed, except that he does try to tell his mother of them later on. She is dismissive of him probably because she is extremely concerned with her career and doesn’t want to to do anything that would jeopardize her relationship with the “star maker”, Haveabud. The author mentions Spencer again at the end of the book, having been killed in an accident. This incident helps shape Will’s strained relationship with his mother and adds to the fact that she doesn’t act like an advocate for her child. She is consumed with herself.
Getting to Wayne and Corky’s House
- Corky, the stepmother, is excited Will is coming and we know this by her preparedness. Will is very subdued about the trip and his main concern is being able to see his friend, Wag, that had previously moved to Florida. He had such a sweet friendship with Wag. Will had to spend a lot of time with Corky while visiting due to the fact that his dad was out with different women and not coming home until late. There was a pool day that made Will almost feel like a normal kid, although Wayne’s employee was the one that played with Will the majority of the time while Wayne sat on the side of the pool and watched. The visit was cut short suddenly by a call from Will’s mother. She wanted him to return to New York for a photo shoot of herself and Will. He was sad and didn’t want to leave because he hadn’t been able to see his friend Wag while in Florida. While Corky was getting Will ready to leave, Wayne was arrested. He watched out of the bathroom window while this scene happened. The book described him as not even wanting to come out of the bathroom to deal with what was happening.
Mel ended up coming and getting him and “saving the day” again, not his mother. He was yet abandoned by his father again.
This is the final section of the book. It takes place twenty years later and Will is now grown with a family of his own.
During this section of the book, we see who the real parent was in Will's life. We see how his childhood has shaped him into the person he is today. Will is now married to woman named Amanda, and they have one child. They have come to visit Jody, Will's mother, for her birthday. Will has not heard from his father Wayne in about fifteen years. Will began to tell his mother about the incident with Haveabud, and she quickly hushed him and told him that nothing negative was to be said about her mentor. This quickly displayed how little she cared about Will's feelings and more of her career. Mel has been the father figure for Will for most of his life. Throughout this whole book, there have been italicized sections. During this section, the reason for these sections are revealed. Mel gives Will a key and told him there are papers he wants him to know about. Later, Mel opened the metal box and began to read all the letters that Mel had written about Will. These were letters about the care Mel took raising Will.
Will had a lot of events and experiences happen to him that made him into the young man he is today. The letters revealed that he had Mel to thank for the life he had as a child.
Who is Ann Beattie?
Ann Beattie was born September 8, 1947. She is a graduate of American University (1969) and University of Connecticut (1970). She began her writing career in the early 1970s. Her short stories were published in The New Yorker and other literary magazines.
Her writing has been "criticized as detached and shallow." Early novels included characters who were passive and unmotivated, but her later works reflect a deeper sense of character. Picturing Will (1989) is a perfect example depicting a character (Wayne) who lacks connecting and communicating effectively with other people, including those he supposedly loved.
Information obtained from: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Ann-Beattie
The first section of the book introduces us to Jody, Will’s mother. We find out about Jody’s past and her role as mother to Will.
Jody is a single parent struggling to raise Will alone. Jody’s husband and Will’s dad, Wayne, left them four years ago, and they ended up in Charlottesville, Virginia. Jody photographs weddings for a living but aspires to do more as a photographer. At the beginning of the story, it is easy to feel sorry for Jody because of what she has gone through and having to raise Will as a single mom. Jody thinks back at all she went through when Wayne left her and that she would have perished without a baby who truly needed her care. Jody thinks of herself as being too protective of Will, and that Will sometimes does not like her. After reading more about Jody, we see a manipulative side to her. She sends her ex-husband, Wayne, manila envelopes filled with grocery receipts, teachers’ notes, and junk mail as a way to confound and intimidate him. Jody’s lover, Mel, is a wonderful man who loves and takes care of Will as his own. It seems like Mel can relate to Will better than Jody. Mel wants to marry Jody, but she continues to string him along. Mel arranges for a well known gallery owner, Haveabud to see Jody’s work in hopes of getting her a job in New York. Jody meets with Haveabud but is unsure about her and Will moving to New York. Will is getting ready to go visit his dad in Florida. He does not have a close relationship with his dad or see him often.
In this first part of the book, Will seems like a well-natured and innocent child who is oblivious to any issues or problems around him.