Ethics of Oates' Landfill

Ethics of Oates' Landfill

Length: 1049 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
An Ethical Origin

Writers have always drawn inspiration from real events for their stories. Joyce Carol Oates is now being criticized as unethical for just that. The critics claim that it was not ethical for Oates to use the events that befell John Fiocco Jr. in her story "Landfill", and also for including many similarities between Fiocco and her main character Hector Campos Jr.. Though there are some similarities between the two, the differences were great enough that only some who knew of the Fiocco case. Because of this, Joyce Carol Oates' decision to use Fioccos' death as a fictional basis was ethical.
The sad story is still mostly a mystery because of the ongoing investigation, and both the police and autopsy report were withheld from the public. What is known, is that a nineteen-year-old freshman at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) named John Fiocco Jr. was reported missing from his dormitory on March 25th 2006 after drinking. Police reported finding blood (that was later identified as belonging to Fiocco) around a dumpster outside of his dormitory. It was never made clear if it had any connection to the trash chute above, but his body was recovered at the Bucks County landfill in Pennsylvania. (Landfill Isn't About Fiocco)
"Landfill" is loosely based on what happened to John Fiocco Jr.. It is a story of a nineteen year old college freshman at Michigan State University at Grand Rapids. He is a struggling student that tries extremely hard to fit in with the fraternity he joined. He is hazed and bullied, and on the night of march twenty-fifth, while heavily intoxicated, he falls down a trash chute at his fraternity house. A few weeks later, his body is discovered at the Tioga County landfill. (Oates)
The family of John Fiocco Jr., classmates, and other critics called Oates unethical for publishing her story in the New Yorker. Though the family has good reason to be upset because they were still grieving their loss when the story was published, using the event as an idea for "Landfill" was in no way unethical. In comparison, September 11th was felt by the entire nation and while all their families were still mourning, books and even movies were made about it. Even if they are not similar events, it shows that no matter what happens, writers will always draw ideas for their stories from real life and in this case, Oates acknowledged that she had read newspaper articles regarding the John Fiocco Jr.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Ethics of Oates' Landfill." 14 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Search For Independence By Joyce Carol Oates

- The Search for Independence The short story, Where are you going. Where have you been. Written by Joyce Carol Oates is about a young girl, fifteen of age. Who is vulnerable and occupied with her physical looks, yet has a lot of confidence in herself also because of her pretty looks. Connie always has conflicts with her family, especially with her mother because she thinks that her mother mistreats her due to her pretty looks and always have comments about everything she does. She hates the idea of her mother always comparing her to her big sister, June, who is 24 years old, with hideous looks....   [tags: Joyce Carol Oates, Short story, Adult]

Research Papers
842 words (2.4 pages)

Self-Discovery in Oates Naked Essay

- Self-Discovery in Oates Naked   While other, less accomplished writers use violence to shock or provoke, Joyce Carol Oates is usually more subtle and inventive. Such is the case in "Naked," the story of a forty-six year old woman whose placid outer identity is ripped away by a brutal assault while out hiking not far from her fashionable, University Heights neighborhood. Like many of Oates' stories—and in this regard she probably owes something to Flannery O'Connor—"Naked" focuses on a woman so entrenched in her rigid self-image that nothing short of violence could make her vulnerable to a humbling, though redemptive, self knowledge....   [tags: Oates Naked Essays]

Research Papers
3608 words (10.3 pages)

The Fires of Jubilee by Stephen B. Oates Essay

- The Fires of Jubilee by Stephen B. Oates The Fires of Jubilee by Stephen B. Oates describes a sad and tragic story about a man named Nat Turner who was born into slavery and his fight to be free. Ironically, his willingness to do anything, even kill, to gain his freedom leads to his own demise. From the title of this book, 'The Fires of Jubilee,'; a reader can truly grasp the concept that there is trouble, chaos, and mayhem brewing in the month of August. This story was not only riveting, but also one that kept me on my heels for almost the entire time that I was reading it....   [tags: The Fires Jubilee Stephen B. Oates Essays]

Research Papers
1331 words (3.8 pages)

Attempts to Connect in Joyce Carol Oates' Shopping Essay

- Attempts to Connect in Shopping Although Shopping, written by Joyce Carol Oates, is fiction, the story portrays a relationship that represents many parents and children have in real life.  The child is growing up and wants to spread her wings.  However, the parent usually does not want to let go.  Arguments and the awkward silences are frequent. The seemingly useless attempts to connect with the son or daughter are also frequent.  Yet, what the child does not realize is that no matter how old she may get, she is still the parent s child.  The mother is not going to forget how precious her little baby is, yet that is what the mother does in this story.  Oates uses references to pregnancy t...   [tags: Joyce Carol Oates Shopping Essays]

Research Papers
848 words (2.4 pages)

Neglect and Decay in Joyce Carol Oates' Haunted Essay

- Neglect and Decay in Joyce Carol Oates' "Haunted" “Things in the world even those built by man are so quiet left to themselves…” People futilely fight the decay of life and relationships in an attempt to find beauty and goodness in the world. Joyce Carol Oates masterfully illustrates this theme in her short story “Haunted.” Oates reveals the protagonist Melissa’s desperate struggle with looming forces like the physical environment, her twisted relationship with her best friend, and even the insanity in her own mind....   [tags: Joyce Carol Oates haunted Short Stories Essays]

Research Papers
686 words (2 pages)

Mother and Daughter Relationship Exposed in Joyce Carol Oates Short Story, Shopping

- Mother and Daughter Relationship Exposed in Joyce Carol Oates' Short Story, Shopping The relationship between a mother and a daughter is one of complications, heartaches, and sweet rewards.  This is no exception between Nola and Mrs. Dietrich, characters in "Shopping" by Joyce Carol Oates.  The tribulations of their relationship are shown during their annual shopping trip.  In the time spent together, Nola is obviously trying to break free from her mother and become her own woman.  This coming-of-age path is expressed by her "private thoughts" and  "answers in monosyllables" (Oates 834).  As Nola desperately tries to acquire her own self, her Mrs....   [tags: Joyce Carol Oates Shopping Essays]

Research Papers
1021 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates

- Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates Is Arnold Friend the Devil in disguise in Joyce Carol Oates' short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" If one were to look at the facts surrounding the actual event this story was based on, any assumption that "Friend" was anything but a man would be thrown out due to logic. However, if one were to look at the story alone, he could concede that Friend is indeed the Devil or at least the Devil's angel. First, there is the physical description of Arnold Friend....   [tags: Papers Joyce Oates Going Essays]

Research Papers
612 words (1.7 pages)

Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Joyce Carolyn Oates’s Expensive People

- Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Joyce Carolyn Oates’s Expensive People Suburban life is commonly portrayed as a narrative of the upper-middle class. Clean, sterile and reserved, suburbia is a tangible representation of the universally misconstrued “American dream.” However, culture fails to recognize the dark underbelly of this uplifting dream: a world of masked depression, ingrained superiority and stark ignorance. Jeffery Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Joyce Carolyn Oates’s Expensive People both narrate the darker side of the American dream....   [tags: Eugenides Oates Expensive Virgin Essays]

Research Papers
1289 words (3.7 pages)

Joyce Carol Oates' Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been? Essays

- Connie, the main character in Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going. Where Have You Been" is a fifteen-year-old girl, just realizing her beauty. It is summer vacation, and she is spending her time either with boys or daydreaming about them. Connie is a typical teenage girl with a desperate need for independence. She does not get along with her mother, and her father is seldom around. He works a great deal of the time, and when he comes home, he likes to eat and go to bed. Connie has a girlfriend who she enjoys going to the mall with....   [tags: Joyce Oates Literature Novel Analysis]

Research Papers
1214 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Joyce Carol Oates' Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

- Joyce Carol Oates' Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.      Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 in Lockport, New York. She started writing very young and that the age of fifteen she submitted her first novel, but it was rejected for being 'too dark';. This style of writing is common on many of her works including 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'; Oates graduated from Syracuse University and then went on to get her master's degree from the University of Wisconsin. Oates 'turned much often in her writing to everyday characters, which she often placed in situations that were both psychologically and socially terrifying.'; (Short Stories For Students 258) Where Are You Going, Whe...   [tags: Joyce Carol Oates Where Going Been Essays]

Research Papers
1540 words (4.4 pages)

Related Searches

case, but "in this process, which is typical of a writer/poet, the original stimulus, or point of departure, was utterly forgotten." (Oates Breaks Silence).
Students and teachers that oppose Oates say that there are too many similarities between her story, and the events that happened to John Fiocco Jr. First off, both of the boys were named after their fathers. They are both freshmen in college, nineteen years old, and they both are found in a landfill after disappearing on Saturday March 25th because of drinking. Even with some similarities, Oates did not intend to cause the Fiocco family distress, and stated this in an apology that was published in The College of New Jersey school paper. It said "My wish to evoke sympathy for a relatively "ordinary" individual was predominant, but I see, to my dismay… many angry sentiments" (Oates Breaks Silence).
In "Landfill", Hector Campos Jr. is described as a looser that struggles in school, and is hazed by the brothers in the fraternity he is pledging for. Fiocco, on the other hand, was a graphic design major, on the honor role, and was never in a fraternity (Search Continues). The differences are mistakable, and even a fiction editor for the New Yorker said that when it was published, editors at the New Yorker did not know about the Fiocco case (Amelkin). As if that was not enough, The Daily Princetonian reported that "Though "Landfill" has thrust Oates and some faculty members into the headlines, many TCNJ students remain unaware of the situation" (Amelkin). In the end, only select few who read "Landfill" connected it to the Fiocco case because of the differences between the boys and the events that occurred.
In an email to the Prince, Oates acknowledged that it was only people from the New Jersey area that made this connection, and also commented that "Most of my short fiction appears in literary magazines… If the story had appeared in one of these, it would have passed unnoticed" (Amelkin). Had it been so, Oates would have never received the kind of criticism that she has, and would therefore not be accused of being unethical.
Even with the similarities in age, being named after their father, and the way in which both were found, the fictional character did not portray what happened to Fiocco. The differences were so great that only a few noticed that Oates used his case as a fictional basis for her story "Landfill". Had Oates published her story in a literary magazine, it would have never been looked upon as unethical. Written in good taste, "Landfill" has nothing but an ethical origin.

Works Cited

Amelkin, Brett. "Oates Story Draws Ire From TCNJ." 12 Oct. 2006. Florida Gulf Coast University Library. Fort Myers, FL. Oct. 2007

Hinton, Timothy. "Oates Breaks Her Silence To College Student." The Signal 1 Nov. 2006. The College of New Jersey. Florida Gulf Coast University Library. Fort Myers, FL. Oct 2007 <>

"Is "Landfill" Trash?" The Signal 10 Nov. 2006. The College of New Jersey. Florida Gulf Coast University Library. Fort Myers, FL. Oct. 2007

"Landfill isn't about Fiocco." New Jersey Online 9 Oct. 2006. Florida Gulf Coast University Library. Fort Myers, FL. Oct. 2007

Oates, Carol. "Landfill." 9 Oct. 2006. Fort Myers, FL. Oct. 2007

"Search For Missing Student Continues." The Signal 29 March 2006. The College of New Jersey. Florida Gulf Coast University Library. Fort Myers, FL. Oct. 2007
Return to