The language of the short story “Popular Girls” by Karen Shepard is explicit, descriptive, and detailed. The choice of words reflects materialism and pop culture, with numerous references to fashion, brands, music bands, and popular clubs in 1980s’ New York: “For fancy occasions Ungaro, Versace, Armani, or small French designers that only the French have heard of.” (ll. 110-112); “We dance to Billy Idol and Modern English, ‘Mony Mony’ and ‘I Melt With You’ and ‘I Love Rock 'N Roll’ and extended dance versions of ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ and Blondie's ‘Rapture’ and anything by The Cars.” (ll. 193-196)
These specific details help the author convey the atmosphere of the 1980s and a portrait of popular girls from the upper class.
The choice of words also includes vocabulary related to sexuality and drugs, which are two other aspects that dominate the lives of the characters.
Dialogue is used very rarely, as most of the story comes across as a self-descriptive monologue, addressed to other students outside the girls’ group: “You can sit on these benches too, but we do not notice you. Last fall we excised some of you from our group by taking you aside five minutes before chapel and saying ‘It just isn't working out.’ ” (ll. 14-16)
Frequent imagery related to the setting and the way the characters look enable the author to create vivid me...