Gail Godwin's story entitled "A Sorrowful Woman " is a feminist story meant to exemplify the depression suffered by many women whose lives are spent solely as wives and mothers without any sense of individual identity or recognition of their accomplishments. The absence of a name for this...
Gail Godwin's story entitled "A Sorrowful Woman" is a feminist story meant to exemplify the depression suffered by many women whose lives are spent solely as wives and mothers without any sense of individual identity or recognition of their accomplishments. The absence of a name for this wife and mother suggests this sense of non-identity, as well as her commonality with women of similar situations.
While her husband is very solicitous about his wife's physical condition, he does not seem to be able to identify the cause of his wife's depression. Instead, he attends only to her physical well-being, believing she is tired and overwrought. When, for example, she feels well enough to go downstairs, she moves around the house for half the day. Her three-year-old son is so excited about having his mother back that he follows her about, pretending to be a tiger, growling and scratching at her. But his behavior is too aggressive for her as growls at her, and he scratches her with one of his "sharp little claws." Frightened, the sensitive mother tells the boy to go away, and she retreats to her bedroom. When she calls her husband at his office, she says, "I've locked myself away from him. I'm afraid." Her husband urges her "to lie down and take it easy;" he adds that he is immediately calling one of their babysitters, but he ignores her message of fear.
Believing that his wife is overworked with all her domestic duties and in need of some time for herself, the husband hires a girl to do the housekeeping and babysit the three-year-old son. The girl who is brought in is very competent, and she becomes quite fond of the boy; he in turn demonstrates affection for her. Still, the mother continues to isolate herself and drink sleeping draughts each night, retreating more and more. For whatever reason, her husband never tries to talk with her or suggest that she finds something outside the home that revives her interest in life. It seems that she has been reduced to the dimension of homemaker, mother, and wife and is not recognized by her husband as a woman with inner feelings and individual needs and fears.
Because she continues to be objectified, the woman despairs. She prepares an expansive and delicious meal and leaves it on the table. She also places neatly folded clean laundry on the table—those chores expected of a wife and mother. But she also places on the table
a sheath of marvelous watercolor beasts accompanied by mad and fanciful stories nobody could ever make up again, and a tablet full of love sonnets addressed to the man
expressions of a spirit about which her husband seemingly has no inkling.