In "The Yellow Wallpaper," what is the significance of this line to the changing relationship of the narrator and her husband? "Lay there for hours trying to decide whether that front pattern and the back pattern really did move together or seperately" (Gilman 1664).

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This comment is made by the narrator after her husband dismisses her concerns about her diminishing mental stability. The narrator's husband is a doctor who treats his wife like a child and refuses to take into account her thoughts, feelings, and mental health. John subscribes to the "rest cure," which was designed to minimize distressing stimulation and promote physical health as a way to treat postpartum depression. When the narrator mentions to her husband that she is not feeling mentally stimulated or emotionally healthy, he completely dismisses her concerns and begs her to get the unpleasant idea that she is not improving out of her mind. The narrator then mentions,

"He thought I was asleep first, but I wasn't, and lay there for hours trying to decide whether that front pattern and the back pattern really did move together or separately" (Gilman, 7).

The fact that the narrator pretends to fall asleep and becomes fascinated by the perplexing yellow wallpaper reveals her dysfunctional, flawed relationship with her husband. The narrator no longer trusts or believes in John and prefers to feign sleep instead of discussing her issues. She feels that her husband is not interested in listening to her concerns and chooses to focus on the wallpaper instead of repairing her relationship. Throughout the story, Gilman depicts how women were marginalized and oppressed in late 19th century England by illustrating how John treats his wife like a child and refuses to consider her feelings.

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The line you ask about from "The Yellow Wallpaper" demonstrates that the cure prescribed for the narrator by her husband (and the male-dominated medical establishment as a whole) is failing miserably.  It demonstrates that denying a depressed woman all intellectual and mental stimulation to cure her is ludicrous. 

In Gilman's day the male medical establishment believed women were mentally inferior to men and that too much thinking made women ill.  Doctors also believed that female mental illness was rooted in the ovaries (thus the term hysteria, another form of the word, hysterectomy). 

The quote reveals a woman suffering from what we today would call post-partum depression finding mental stimulation any way she can.  Forced to give in to her husband's every order, her growing insanity is a testament to the destruction of whatever relationship they once had.  As she "sees" the wall paper come alive, the "distance"
between her and her husband grows. 

The line you ask about doesn't directly deal with her relationship with her husband, but it indirectly exemplifies their decaying relationship. 

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