Popular Girls Analysis
Popular Girls by Karen Shephard
We are immediately introduced to five girls in Popular Girls written by Karen Shepard. The five girls, Kaethe, Alina, CJ, Sydney and Stephanie, in Popular Girls have very few physical descriptions. They are only described by their hair as being straight and every colour but red.
With sentences as ‘we do not notice you’ and ‘we have seen the theater teacher looking at them. We are not shocked. We are not surprised’ (about their breasts) we can assume, that they have plenty of confidence. But even though, they may seem confident on their outside, their confidence is put on the line, when they meet three men, that they are all interested in.
Suddenly, their worth is in competition, and they see one by one, who is the most wanted. Their confidence is peeled down.
They have an usual formation then they walk. Stephanie is always first, then comes Sydney and Alina and at last Kaethe and CJ.
When it comes to conquest the men, they are not in the same order and position. CJ gets home with Pablo, because of CJ’s lack of consciousness. Sydney gets Gilles when they get home to the three boys, and only Antoine is left with no girl.
‘We like the dance floor. We dance in groups, letting the boys in, closing them out. Dancing is not about the boys. It’s a performance of us, the group of us’
The five girls support and adore each other. When they are partying and dancing, it is to show everyone, what they are missing. They take care that they are having control, they are vigilant, that only the best of the best comes into their group.
The novel Popular Girls takes place in New York, United States of America, in 1982. We are presented a group consisting five 10-grader girls in the upper class of New York. The girls Kaethe, Alina, CJ, Sydney and Stephanie are described as being so pretty, that you get goose bumps by looking at them.
‘We are from another world’
‘We do not notice you’
‘We sweep you with our eyes as if you were a landscape’
The point of view in Popular Girls could very well be based on the previous history, Karen Shephard may have had with popular girls and the upper class.
The story is told in the third person narrator, but with a limited narrator.
The limited narrator is talking in third person, but cannot read thoughts of the five girls.
Throughout the story, the group is referred to as ‘we’, meaning the narrator is one of the five girls, but we never get to know who. Nowhere in the story is any of the girls referred as ‘I’. I think it is because this is a story of Popular Girls in general. It is telling a generalizing story about five young girls, who is born with privileges.
The ending of Popular Girls sets their life in perspective. We hear about how their family and pets are doing in the middle of the morning, while the girls are in their sleep with the three men. We do not know, what happened, but we know, that what happened, does not affect the love of their family. Even in the middle of chaos, they seem to find their innocent and inner peace in where they are right now; a couple of 10-grader girls, that want the time to go a little faster.
‘We’re loved. We’re protected. Do with us what you dare. Do with us what you can’
In the ending, we see another side of the girls. In spite of the cruel thoughts and statements, the narrator writes, we see the soft side of the girls in the ending. They are living in the presence. They are not taking the love they get from each other, their family and pets for granted, because it is protecting them and giving them the opportunity to taking risks, without being in danger of losing it all.
The themes in the novel Popular Girls could be:
Identity, based on the experiences they are going through in such a young age.
Youth, based on identity, the need of finding yourself.
Rebellion, based on their trips out in the middle of the night with fake-IDs and parents, that, even though they know, what they are doing, would not agree on their behaviour.