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"A Married Man's Story" by Katherine Mansfield is an unfinished story whose confessional narrative is a series of revelations that also are unfinished; nevertheless, they build upon one another to express in the silence of his ellipses the narrator's illumination of his present.
These "glimpses," as one critic calls the ellipses, differ from the epiphanies of James Joyce in which the character has a sudden, sharp insight that is unexpected. Instead, Mansfield's narrator finds his revelations as he gradually examines his past experiences that seem random and incongruous. His "spiritual manifestation" occurs in his recall of things that are inconsequential in between pauses as he listens "to a silent voice inside a little cage that was me"; as a result, the reader, too, pauses in order to connect ideas. This method is not unrealistic as often people have random thoughts and then "connect the dots," as it were, into a complete revelation.
As the story opens, the narrator and his wife are in the sitting room where there is a fire. However, the warmth seems to end there as his wife does not interact in the spontaneous way most mothers do with their babies, nor does the husband really communicate with her; instead he tells small lies to her and wonders
Will she never grow accustomed to these simple—one might say—everyday little lies ? Will she never learn not to expose herself—or to build up defenses?
This remark and those made between the narrator's pauses all allow the reader to "see into the life of things" as Wordsworth once expressed insights. As the narrator continues, it is the silences, the ellipses, that express more than the words. For, piecing together remembrances of things past, the narrator illuminates his present as he "listen[s] to a silent voice inside a little cage that was me." As a child, the narrator feels that he was much "like a plant in a cupboard"; now, in his married life, he feels that it is the "impermanent self" which chooses another "impermanent self" as a partner in marriage. For, love and marriage are intertwined with the melancholic memories of aloneness, and it is an unconscious self that selects others similar to him/her.
Thus, the relationship between the narrator and his wife is one united with the unconscious selves rather than that which is apparent. Afraid to be alone again, they stay together. It is the secret relation to another that causes attraction, and it is this secret relation that keeps couples from separating even though their outward life is one of desperation, as the narrator learns from his mother. More is expressed in silence and in the pauses indicated by the ellipses than what is outwardly expressed; therefore, it is fitting that Mansfield does not complete her story as a reflection of uncompleted revelations.
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