Joe Dagget made Louisa wait for fifteen years to marry him. Now the wedding is only a week away. This is the crux of the story “A New England Nun” by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. This is a woman’s story of independence. Louisa is an unusual woman who believes that in her soft, feminine way she does not need a man.
The narration is third person omniscient with an authorial point of view. Focusing on Louisa as the protagonist, the action takes place in her house which is of great importance to her.
This is a turning point in Louisa’s life. For the last seven years of the total fifteen, Louisa has found contentment in living alone. Louisa is obsessed by her daily routine and arrangement of the things around her. For so long, Louisa has removed herself from society with her only companions, a canary and a chained dog named Caesar.
The relationship between the two potential mates has cooled and become strained. Each day that he visits, Louisa and Joe sit across from each other and discuss the events of the day. He is uncomfortable because every time he moves or touches something Louisa lightly scolds him. When Joe leaves, he steps outside and gives a sigh of relief. On the other side of the door, Louisa fusses to herself about the dirt that he has brought in with him.
The same night Louisa hears Joe and his mother’s nurse talking. They have had an affair and seem to have feelings for each other. This changes everything for Louisa. She will release Joe from his commitment and continue on in the life she has built for herself.
Louisa is be admired because she had no tantrum. In fact, she did not let Joe know why she was releasing him. They gently kissed good-bye. Remember he had cost her fifteen years of her life waiting for him. This is a woman with values and courage.
So many things happened while Joe was gone that impacted Louisa. Her mother and brother died, leaving her all alone. However, Louisa had arranged her life so that she lives in perfect order with everything just as she likes it.
For fifteen years she had loved the idea of Joe. She was faithful to him, and he had been her only lover. Both of them had longed for the day when they could be married—until Joe returned and reality dropped on them.
In her own way, Louisa feels she has uncloistered herself in her own type of convent where she finds innocence and harmony without the need of a man. Certainly, Louisa is a sympathetic character.
Serenity and placid narrowness had become to her as the birthright itself. She gazed ahead through a long reach of future days strung together like pearls in a rosary, every one like the others, and all smooth and flawless….
Louisa has made life for herself in her own home with her own things. Her obsessiveness ran to perfection in cleaning, arranging her things, and following a set routine of how she spent her days.
Her choices are difficult to understand because to the reader she has locked herself up with no room for outsiders since most human beings want the companionship of at least another person. However, every person must find his own peace of mind and his own happiness.