When talking about the role of husband and wife in a family, people usually state that the man is the person who build the house and the woman is the one who make it to be a home. However, there is one time, the woman refuses her part and turns her house into a place of dullness and misery. Literally, the woman in the story “A Sorrowful Woman” by Gale Godwin is an example. Instead of being pleased and proud of having a thoughtful and loving husband, along with a nice and well-behaving son, she feels tired of seeing them, is distant herself from them, and commits suicide at the end of the story.
Through the elements of characterization, conflict and irony, Gale Godwin successfully attracts readers into his story and gradually directs people from disagreement to sympathy. At first, characterization delineates the picture of the protagonist, the sorrowful woman. The woman is supposed to be a wife and a mother; however, she refuses her role. She is distant herself from her husband and her child, and dies at the end of the story. In the beginning of the story, Gayle Godwin writes, “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” (Godwin 1). The unhappiness does not come to her because her husband mistreats her or her child is bad-behaving. In fact, it derives from her desire of being a free woman who is not tied by the responsibility of being a wife and a mother. Most likely, she is tired of seeing the familiar things around and doing the same things over and over. She chooses to be completely isolated from her family to explore her own world with freedom-in-loneliness.
She says to her husband, “Just push the notes under the door; I'll read them. And don't forget to leave the draught outside” (Godwin 6). The more space she has for herself, the more she asks for it. It seems like she wants to kill her appearance in the family. Nevertheless, she cannot destroy her natural instinct. Godwin describes that, “She heard him in the kitchen where he mixed the draught in batches now to last a week at a time, storing it in a corner of the cupboard.
She heard him come back, leave the big glass and the little one outside on the door” (6). Actually, the woman is hearing with attention and she still cares for what is happening around the house. At the end, the woman dies in peace after finishing her household work. Eventually, this woman’s soul can just be free only if both her soul and body stay in the same place—heaven or hell. Besides characterization, irony plays an important role in creating the whimsicality between what the characters think and how the fact turns out to be.
In fact, the woman is stressed out because her emotion is unstable and depressed. She is in need of sharing; ironically, she cannot express her feeling properly. Instead of explaining and seeks for help, she acts with cruelly and isolate herself from her loves. Her action is mentioned as, “ When the husband is thinking that he is helping his wife get over the sorrow by satisfying with her demands, the fact is that the more he coddles her, the more she is depressed; because she really does not know exactly what she actually wants.