A Sorrowful Woman

by Gail Godwin

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How was the point of view vital to the story's theme, characters, and so on in "A Sorrowful Woman"?

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In the story, Gail Godwin uses a third-person narrator, which imparts a detached tone to the narrative. It also allows the author to provide information about every character’s interior state, which the other characters may not necessarily understand. The fairy-tale formula adds to the distancing, as the story may seem to be placed in the past. For the reader, rather than encouraging strong identification with either character, the apparently objective perspective in the story allows the reader to form their own judgments about the characters.

However, the narrative seems to be slanted in favor of the wife’s position. This may be because she is the one who is suffering from her habitual “sorrow” and we would like to root for her to get better. The seemingly objective tone also helps to strengthen the impression of a wide gulf between the wife and the husband. As the reader can observe their behaviors, it becomes clear that they do not understand each other and that, although he seems to have good intentions, the husband does not know how to help his wife.

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