Floating And So Much Water

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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In the stories floating and So Much water so close to home, two women in emotionally abusive marriages start to realize the type of non-loving relationships that they are in, they both start to see their husbands for what they really are and began to analyze the situations they are in. The authors Karen Brenman and Ryamond Carrer show the emotional abuse that the female characters go through by the use of dialogue, and the narrator's observations. In both stories the male characters show their verbally abusive qualities by the way they place commands and putdowns onto their wives. The narrators on the other hand are used as observers and make conclusions about each husband upon reflecting about the way each man ignores and mistreats her.

The first husband in Floating is introduced to the reader through the observations of the narrator. She opens the story by talking about how good it feels to "float" and to finally have this freedom for the first time in her life.

She states, "In my own room I realized that I could float, simply by willing it. I ascended from the ground and spread my arms like an archangel's." (234) When she describes herself doing this there is a tone of utter happiness and the reader can tell that she is at peace and enjoying herself. The narrator's moment of happiness is interrupted by the callous thoughts of her husband. While she is looking at her shoes she remembers her husbands hurtful words about them, "they look like nun's bowling shoes according to my husband."(234) This sentence is told after she talks about how they were her "new black boots," meaning than they were of importance to her yet her husband could not realize this and instead took the opportunity to make her feel bad about something which was special to her. This same thing occurs again in the story when the narrator, who is very much, impressed with her new ability of floating. She wants to show her husband this one quality that is especially impressed with. As she is floating by she yells, "look what I can do!" in a very excited manner. He then "shook his head. He wasn't shocked, but annoyed." The author described the women to be at such a joyful state while floating and illustrated as an amazing act, but the way her husband responds to each of these events that are of importance to her, gives great insight into the relationship between the couple. His response to her floating demonstrates how he ignores her and has no interest in her.

As the story progresses the reader become much more enlightened about the husbands extreme disregard for the wife's feelings through many comments which he makes to his wife. While the narrator sits in her room the husband enters and tells her, "Dinner is served, he says sarcastically."(236) The narrator tells us that he says this in a sarcastic way to give some understanding to the way she is treated. If a simple comment like telling his wife that dinner is ready cant even be done in a nice way, then this exemplifies the type of verbally abusive person he is. Towards the end of the story the narrator is observing her husband while she is in the kitchen and says, "I am way up her and will he be amazed? Will he believe in this extraordinary power? No. Nothing can impress him." She talks about not being able to capture her husband attention through the act of floating, since floating by him does not grab his attention, this shows that nothing will. Her last attempt to grab his interest is through a kiss. "Spaghetti kiss? I say. Because I want us to be friends, to be affectionate with one another. But he just looks down."(236) The narrator has tried so hard to grab her husband's attention but has failed every time. She wants a relationship and she lets him know that this is important to her, so when he just looks down and denies her invitation for a kiss the reader knows that this has hurt her, especially after so many tries of attempting to capture his attention. The author writes that he had no response to attempts to kiss him and instead he just looks down. This made the reader become much more sympathetic to the women and more understandable to the unloving relationship that she is in. The kiss was a perfect example of this because it reveals the husbands unwillingness to try and make their marriage work and also demonstrates how much of a non-loving marriage she is in.

In the second story, So much water so close to home the reader is first introduced to the husband in the very first sentence. The author starts to describe him by telling the reader that he "eats with a good appetite but he seems tied, edgy. He chews slowly, arms on the table, and stares at something across the room. He looks at me than away again." Just by the narrators opening description of her husband the reader can start to feel the uneasy relationship that the two share. Small key words that she used to describe him like "edgy" and "tired" make him seem unapproachable. The narrator's use of key words have set the scene for the entire story. As the story goes on the narrator finds herself in the kitchen after an evening of fighting with her husband. She finds a note from her husband and focuses on the part signed, "love." The author makes reference to this to show that the narrator is starting to question the love that her and her husband share. The wife sees that there marriage is not encompass love, after many fights that they have where he has become abusive and she is beginning to recognize that its not love if he can lift her up and than let her fall to the ground, after she says. "Stop, stop, stop."(530) Besides trying to control her through physical abuse he attempts to manipulate her by telling her, "I'm thinking your making a big mistake by doing this. I'm thinking you'd better think again about what you're doing. Claire?"(525) The narrator's husband is trying to control her, he questions what she is doing and try's to steer her in the direction in which he wants her to go. The author uses phrases like this one to show the controlling attitude that the husband has towards his wife. By the end of the story her husband has started to become even more violent. The narrator sleeps in a different room, although this is thought of as a bad idea from her husband she still does it. He tells asks her " "˜what the hell do you think will be accomplished by this?' He lets out a breath." (525) Again the husband questions the narrator's actions hoping that it will change her mind about her bold decision. But she responds with "I need to be by myself tonight. I need time to think." (525) The author demonstrates the way that the husband try's to control her and attempt to get her to change her mind by questioning her decisions each time but instead she takes a stand for herself and stays put without hesitating.

In both stories Floating and So much water so close to home the authors illustrate the emotional abuse that each narrator goes through by the many conversations in which the husband and wives have. The author creates the setting and feeling for each scene through strong key words that each husband say towards there wives, these words help to create an illustrative environment of emotional abuse. Both husbands are constantly controlling the narrator's actions and trying to manipulate certain situations to have influence over them. The author sets the beginning of each story with a certain tone from the husband so the reader knows what a negative situation both women are in.