For Martha the crop of wheat represents her relationship with and feelings for her husband, John. At the beginning of the story, Martha walks through a field full of wheat, grown higher than her knee and described as the "best crop of wheat that John had ever grown." As she...
For Martha the crop of wheat represents her relationship with and feelings for her husband, John. At the beginning of the story, Martha walks through a field full of wheat, grown higher than her knee and described as the "best crop of wheat that John had ever grown." As she walks through the field, she lets her hand brush against the stalks and admires the beauty of the golden wheat shimmering in the breeze. In the distance, Martha sees her husband still working hard, and the wheat represents for her the fruition of her husband's work. She admires him for his perseverance and his work-ethic, and is reminded of these qualities by the crop of wheat. As Martha says, "It was John who gave such allure to the wheat."
The wheat, for Martha, also represents a product of her husband's love. He has put all of his love and attention into the fields, trying to cultivate a good crop. In doing so, he has neglected to love his wife. Therefore, Martha thinks of the crop of wheat as a way in which to at least indirectly feel once more the love of her husband. She hopes that this crop will return "perhaps a little of what it had taken from her John, his love, his lips unclenched."
Martha also hopes that the successful crop of wheat will make her husband happy and "young again, (and) lift his head, give him spirit." She hopes that if this crop can make her husband young and happy again, then she will have once more the man that she fell in love with all those years ago.
Martha also sees in the wheat a symbol of endurance and struggle, and, therefore, a symbol also of her relationship with her husband. Just as the wheat must "struggle against wind and insects, drought and weeds" to survive, so too she must struggle against John's remoteness and sadness, in order for their relationship to survive.
At the end of the story, there is a devastating storm which ruins the entire crop, reducing it to "little rags of muddy slime." At this moment the crop of wheat represents what has become of Martha and John's relationship. For so long it has been defined by struggle and endurance, and occasionally it has been defined by hope, but ultimately it has been, like the field of wheat, reduced to nothing.