Astronomer's Wife

Essay by truomeUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2003

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In the short story titled Astronomer's Wife, author Kay Boyle tells a superb story of Mrs. Ames a woman who has forgotten her strength and beauty, whose life is missing it's true identity because of her husband's control. Mrs. Ames tells the story in third person as the protagonist, with her being the main character. The plumber is antagonist, who brings changes into Mrs. Ames' life giving her back her lost identity. Mr. Ames uses control through out the story by isolating his wife from the rest of the world.

Boyle uses symbolism to show Mrs. Ames' lost identity as the narrator addresses her as the astronomer's wife. She doesn't truly becomes Mrs. Ames until the plumber arrives. Her sense of self has deteriorated to such a point where she continually repeats that she is Mrs. Ames, perhaps as much as to convince the plumber of her identity as well as herself.

Even Mrs. Ames' appearance when she wakes up, "her yellow hair was still uncombed and sideways on her head"(Boyle, 57) shows how she feels invisible, that her outer appearance does not matter.

Mr. and Mrs. Ames have either just rented the villa for the summer or moved into this remote country home that has many problems. The remoteness of the house reflects lack of communication and the drain being stopped up represents Mrs. Ames view of her life. The house is in a quiet and lonely countryside that is bordered by mountains and forests. This is all part of Mr. Ames' trap in isolating his wife so he can have full control over her. She does not feel being one with her husband, rather she feels owned by him, body and mind. In the morning as she gets out of bed, Mrs. Ames "…comes into her own possession"(Boyle,