We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


Karen Joy Fowler

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves can help.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: Prologue Summary & Analysis

Rosemary writes that people who know her now will be surprised that she was very talkative as a child. She describes a series of home movies featuring herself, her mother, and her sister (Fern). Rosemary is not sure what she is saying in the videos, but the meaning of the words isn’t important, only their high quantity. Even though her parents were pleased by her chatty nature, occasionally her father would grow exasperated by how much she talked and tell her to “skip the beginning” of her stories and instead “start in the middle.”
This opening passage introduces several of the novel’s major themes, including family, memory, and the tension between communication and silence. It is clear that Rosemary is preoccupied with her parents’ approval, and perhaps struggles with their ambivalent reaction to her talkative nature. Her focus on home movies and the art of storytelling gives a metafictional slant to the prologue, alerting the reader that this will be a narrative about narrative.
Family, Tradition, and the Past Theme Icon
Absence, Silence, and Denial Theme Icon