Over the years, Janet Fitch has enjoyed wider and more diverse audience. Her works were appreciated by critics, regular readers and even by celebrities. One of the popular followers of Janet Fitch is the celebrity television show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey who “fell in love” with Janet Fitch’s works particularly White Oleander, a story which, according to Oprah herself, is something that moved her (Oprah Talks to Janet Fitch 2).
But the power of Fitch’s works is appreciated even by ordinary individuals. One of the very good examples illustrating this fact is the numerous comments among readers and prospective readers found in the Amazon. com section for Paint It Black. The readers/bloggers also pointed to the fact that the stories depict a certain high degree of realism in comparison of real life and the story.
It was enveloped in a wide range of emotions (Hughes 4), a sense of closeness to real life that others describe as stories told by characters, the story and the characters both ring with authenticity (West 2); While other critics believe that the talent of Fitch involves the creation of characters which possess distinct and believable characteristics typical of an ordinary human individual (Ginsberg 4). Janet Fitch’s works is considered as praiseworthy and notable by many critics.
One of the reasons why this is the case is because of how Janet Fitch’s works transcend the literary realm and impact real life. The lessons and realizations derived from her works are constructed in a design that maximizes and optimizes the ability of the works to touch the senses of the readers through Fitch’s discussion of life, death and finding life’s paths (not before losing the sense of direction first) in her works, particularly in the White Oleander and Paint It Black.
An essential approach that Janet Fitch takes in tackling the issues of real human life, that makes her works and stories appreciated by the readers and touches the emotions of the readers, is her use of contemporary setting (or close to contemporary setting) and tackling about issues that almost every individual is vulnerable to suffer or is constantly suffering. The readers are more attached to the stories that Fitch paint.
There are many cases that the aspect of life as tackled by Fitch through her character are issues that are seldom addressed by society and issues that many individuals are easily vulnerable to, wrapping it up around a very emotional life not just for the protagonist but also exposing the depth of the serious emotional vein found in other major and minor casts in her stories. For example, the “White Oleander” is a work that breaks off from the traditional feel good reading that gives readers an escape.
Through the White Oleander, Fitch does not provide escape from reality as fairy tales do, but instead, remind the readers of the social problems and real life as reflected in White Oleander and its characters, a story described by Laura Miller as something that is “no fairytale (Miller 1). ” The impact of the stories Janet Fitch wrote is centered largely on realizations which readers often can relate to, particularly during the realizations happening in the end or close to the end of the story.
It is an aspect of Janet Fitch’s writing style and design which is considered by some readers as one of Fitch’s strengths as an effective writer (West 1). One of the prevailing realizations about life is how the characters eventually end up getting enough courage to face the past and the present. This was the case of Astrid in White Oleander and the case of Josie in Paint It Black (Hughes 3). But the lessons and realizations is not just facilitated by the aspects of life, of being alive and living. The instances of death also often touch a raw nerve among the readers who are affected by the works.
Death, especially the death of someone special or important to one’s life, is something that everyone experienced or will soon experience. Fitch has effectively painted the emotions engulfing the person during the time of death, like the anguish Astrid felt after the death of Claire Richards in White Oleander. Depiction of death-related emotions in Paint It Black involving the suicide of Michael and the impact it has on the state of emotional and mental stability of Josie immediately after the tragedy. It is an analogy of powerful emotions including anger and dislocation something considered as beautifully described by Fitch (Campbell 3).
There are also other subplots and aspects of the stories Fitch creates that are constantly present like drug addiction and sex, issues that face many individuals today. It can be one of the linchpins that allows readers to relate to the story and to the main characters, like Astrid in White Oleander and Josie in Paint it Black, who tried to cope with emotional problems through alcohol and drugs (Boulter 1). It is the same predicament of Astrid and the same predicament of many individuals in today’s life.
The greatest source of emotional impact that readers can easily detect and relate to is the presence of significant mother-daughter relations as well as problems (Oktay 256) and the strong role of family in the stories written by Fitch, and with focus as well to the narcissistic tendencies of mothers both in White Oleander and in Paint it Black (Valby 1). It was revealed in the musings of the lead characters like when Astrid noted how her mother “was not herself in the time of the Santa Anas (Fitch 1),” noting the central role of the mother in the daughter’s life, not just in White Oleander but also in Paint It Black.
In White Oleander, the struggle of Astrid in her emotionally unstable relationship with her mother Ingrid, who she still loved in the end, despite how Ingrid treated her when she was young, provides many instances that many mother-daughter relationships experience. Astrid’s journey around several foster homes and the perpetual need to be loved, accepted and taken care of is also a perennial emotional issue many individuals struggle with openly or in their own private recluse. A more distorted or more complex mother-daughter relationship is found in Paint It Black (Campbell 4).
In these two stories, several roles of the mother and the daughter and several different situations allow readers to pick points wherein they can relate to, allowing Fitch’s fanbase to grow because of this sense of attachment to the characters/story/predicament presented in Fitch’s works. In a way, it makes Fitch a catalyst or even a channel for individuals to find someone (even fictional) that they can relate to and share similar experiences with, in the hope that the later realizations can assist the readers towards certain realizations and closures in their own personal lives and in their own personal struggles, challenges and problems.
There is no doubt that in the analysis of what critics, observers, analysts and even the ordinary individual reader, Janet Fitch is a writer above average. This is because of what she wrote, how she wrote it, how she developed characters, and how these characters and stories have the power to influence the emotions of the readers as it reflected real life, real death-related issues and the process and journey towards self discovery and the unfolding of the path for the individual despite what the characters have undergone in the story, despite Josie “couldn’t settle anywhere (Fitch 8).
” It is, in its own way, inspiring the readers and empowering them towards inward personal values that can make them better individuals and cope better with their own personal challenges like how the characters of Fitch did in the stories, doing in a manner considered as masterful storytelling. Boulter describes Paint It Black as “well written” (Boutler 4). Ginsberg believed that Fitch was able to make an “indelible literary mark” because of her opus White Oleander (Gindsberg 1).
Farr discussed in the book about the personal connections the reader has on the different aspects of White Oleander like story and characters and how these affected them and how they reacted to it (Farr 105). Works Cited Boulter, Maryann. “Paint It Black – Janet Fitch. ” Nightsandweekends. com. 2006. 16 May 2009 <http://www. nightsandweekends. com/articles/06/NW0600448. php>. Campbell, Karen. “’Paint It Black’ is a compelling tale of suicide, memory, and perception. Boston Globe. ” Globe Newspaper Company. 18 September 2006. 16 May 2009 <http://www. boston.
com/ae/books/articles/2006/09/18/paint_it_black_is_a_compelling_tale_of_suicide_memory_and_perception/>. De Turenne, Veronique. “’White Oleander’ Author Returns with ‘Paint It Black’. ” NPR. 4 October 2006. 16 May 2009 <http://www. npr. org/templates/story/story. php? storyId=6194765 Farr, Cecilia Konchar. Reading Oprah: How Oprah’s Book Club Changed the Way America Reads. State University of New York Press, 2004. Fitch, Janet. Paint It Black: A Novel. Little Brown & Co. , 2007. Fitch, Janet. White Oleander. Gale Group, 1999. Ginsberg, Debra. “The Performing Artist. ” The San Diego Union-Tribune. 24 September 2006. 16 May 2009 <http://www.
signonsandiego. com/uniontrib/20060924/news_lz1v24artist. html>. Hughes, A. “Of Course It’s Depressing. Customer Reviews. Paint It Black: A Novel. ” Amazon. com. March 2007. 16 May 2009 <http://www. amazon. com/dp/0316182745>. Miller, Laura. “Making a Monster. ” Salon. com. July 1999. 16 May 2009 <http://www. salon. com/books/feature/1999/07/01/oleander/>. Oktay, Julianne. Breast Cancer: Daughters Tell Their Stories. Taylor & Francis, Inc. , 2005. “Oprah Talks to Janet Fitch. ” The Oprah Magazine. September 2006. 16 May 2009 <http://www. oprah. com/article/omagazine/omag_200609_ocut>. “Selected Reviews for Paint It Black. ” Literati. n
Subject: Janet Fitch,
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 September 2016
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