Astronomer's Wife

by Kay Boyle
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What is the message of this story?

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"Astronomer's Wife " has a few prevalent themes, but its message about marriage seems to be the most powerful. I think the author is trying to convey how glamor and intellect don't always mean someone is the better partner. In the story, Katherine Ames is faced with a disappointing...

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"Astronomer's Wife" has a few prevalent themes, but its message about marriage seems to be the most powerful. I think the author is trying to convey how glamor and intellect don't always mean someone is the better partner. In the story, Katherine Ames is faced with a disappointing and even sorrowful marriage. Her husband spends most of his time lying in bed or peering up at the sky through his telescope, cold and stoic toward his wife. His attitude makes her feel inferior, as though he is on a quest for knowledge and she has no value.

The story takes a turn when Mrs. Ames meets another man, a plumber. He is kind and pays attention to her. Even though his profession is less glamorous than Mr. Ames's and he may not be as intelligent, he is clearly a better partner for Katherine. He is down to earth and treats her with respect. Katherine is finally able to escape her miserable marriage when she decides to leave Mr. Ames for the plumber, finally hopeful for real love.

"Astronomer's Wife" juxtaposes Mr. Ames and the plumber in an interesting way. Mr. Ames is never really physically present, much like his habit of examining the sky for things the naked eye cannot see and a person cannot touch. On the other hand, the plumber solves problems on earth with his hands, making him much more tangible.

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