Foxfire -- Confessions of a Girl Gang
written by Joyce Carol Oates

Turner Fenton Campus
Brampton, Ontario

By Catherine M. (Grade 11)

"Off they're running, those two girls in their FOXFIRE jackets and scarves, bare-headed, wild, shrieking in the street slip-sliding on ice like small children so high it's beyond alcohol it's beyond marijuana it's beyond sniffing nail polish and contagious so Toby the silvery-haired raccoon-faced husky races past them barking crazily then doubling back as a dog will do to race by another time, there's a sound of horns, a sound of brakes in the street and Legs and Goldie are on a rampage their blood so stirred they aren't even required to glance at each other..." (p.116)

Many people have made decisions about Foxfire's value in schools without having actually read the novel. To understand and make a conclusion about Foxfire's worth, reading the novel is definitely necessary.

The novel is about a group of girls who form a gang which they call Foxfire. Their gang will fight against anything which they consider to be an injustice. The characters are from homes which lacking attention and love and they are therefore seeking affection and self-worth from their friends. Their rebellious nature is shown through their actions in attempting to solve everyday problems. For instance, they deface the car of a teacher who is sexually harassing one of the gang girls. They take host age a businessman who they consider to be the enemy, a rich capitalist.

Legs Sadovsky heads up the gang. She's tough and she's a definite leader. The rest of the girls look to Legs for leadership and advice. The novel's narrator is Maddy Wirtz, a faithful follower of Legs, and the one Foxfire member whose conscience is presented throughout the novel.

Foxfire is a novel which reflects everyday conflicts presented in many girl's lives. The characters in the novel may not react to the conflicts constructively but a lesson is presented through the harsh consequences the characters suffer. On a whole, the novel can be enjoyed because of the strength of each character and the underlying themes and messages in the book.

Joyce Carol Oates has done an exceptional job in creating a realistic and perceptive portrayal of a 'girl gang'. There are some scenes which involve some fairly graphic and descriptive sexuality. Although some may feel these scenes are unnecessary, it does add to the realism of the story and the reader is able to gain a deeper understanding of what the girls are feeling.

The characters are believable and actually portray a really strong image for teenage females despite their destructive actions. The gang does not accept anything readily. None of the characters reflect a stereotypical sissy image of teenage girls; they're tough, they're ready for anything, and they don't look back.

Foxfire shakes you into the startling raw reality of gang life. Nothing is made to look pretty; the edges of this book are sharp and ridged with severe brutality and bluntness. It won't hurt you, but what it will do is open you up to a world you probably have never experienced before. Girls doing what they want and where they want, forgetting... or maybe remembering, not to ask for permission. Foxfire, on a whole, depicts a strong image of girls and their innermost strength, and a bond of sisterhood which is sacred, unbreakable, and everlasting.

Foxfire Credits - Cover design by Melissa Jacoby Cover photography by Doris Kloster Cover property of Penquin Group publishers.

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