A Sorrowful Woman
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Explication of a Passage from Gail Godwin’s
“A Sorrowful Woman”
One winter evening she looked at them: the husband durable, receptive, gentle; the child a tender golden three. The sight of them made her so sad and sick she did not want to see them ever again.
She told the husband these thoughts. He was attuned to her; he understood such things. He said he understood. What would she like him to do? “If you could put the boy to bed and read him the story about the monkey who ate too many bananas, I would be grateful.” “Of course,” he said. ”Why, that’s a pleasure.” And he sent her off to bed.
The next night it happened again. Putting the warm dishes away in the cupboard, she turned and saw the child’s gray eyes approving her movements. In the next room was the man, his chin sunk in the open collar of his favorite wool shirt. He was dozing after her good supper. The shirt was the gray of the child’s trusting gaze. She began yelping without tears, retching in between. The man woke in alarm and carried her in his arms to bed. The boy followed them up the stairs, saying, “It’s all right, Mommy,” but this made her scream. “Mommy is sick,” the father said, “go wait for me in your room.”
The first three paragraphs of “A Sorrowful Woman” by Gail Godwin are a precursor of the tone and overall plot development of the rest of the story. The tone put forth in this passage is continued throughout the progression of the piece. Godwin also uses certain words and setting that lend to developing this tone of dreariness and sadness. The events that take place here foreshadow very similar ones later on in the story. The first paragraph also sets up the rest of the story. Now the reader knows the main conflict. The woman seems to love the husband and boy as the words used to describe them are very pleasant, and yet the sight of them makes her sick.
The overall tone of the piece is ...
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