Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 527
At three o’clock one morning, Catherine awakens Henry to tell him that she is having labor pains. They take a taxi to the hospital where Catherine is checked in. When she is settled in her room, Catherine tells Henry that it will be a long wait and so he’d better go get some breakfast. The nurse agrees, but he decides to stay. Later, Catherine again urges him to go, so Henry goes to a café nearby and has breakfast. When he goes back to the hospital, Henry notices a dog sniffing around the trash cans. He looks inside the cans to see if there is anything for the dog, but there is nothing.
When Henry returns to the hospital, he finds Catherine’s room empty. The nurse explains that she has been taken to the delivery room, where she can be given anesthesia to ease the labor pains. At noon, the baby still has not arrived. The doctor goes to get a bite to eat, leaving Henry to give Catherine the anesthesia as needed. At two o’clock, Henry goes to have lunch at the same café. He notices the other people in the café and wonders how they handled the birthing process. When he goes back to Catherine, she is in tremendous pain. She keeps telling herself that she won’t die, and the doctor tells her she is being silly.
Henry waits down the hall. His thoughts lead him to ponder why sex brings such pain. Being married would not have lessened the pain. He fears that Catherine will die. He reminds himself that very few women die in childbirth anymore, but he again is afraid that Catherine will. The doctor comes out to tell him that the baby is not coming. There is the choice of a dangerous high forceps delivery or a Caesarean. He advises the latter as the safest route. Henry visits Catherine one last time before the operation. She is afraid that she will die.
After the delivery, the doctor brings the baby out. It is a boy, but Henry feels nothing. He notices that the baby is dark and does not respond to the doctor’s slapping. He goes to visit Catherine and tells her that they have a long, wide, dark son who looks like a skinned rabbit with a puckered, old man face. The nurse gives him a strange look. When Henry leaves Catherine’s room, he learns that the baby is dead, choked by its umbilical cord. In despair, he contemplates that everything leads to death. He goes to eat supper, but when he returns he learns that Catherine is hemorrhaging. He goes in to see her. She knows that she is going to die. She is not afraid to die, but she thinks it is a “dirty trick.” Henry stays with her until she dies.
Henry wants to have one last visit with Catherine. The nurses try to prevent him from going into the room, but he kicks them out. He sees Catherine, but it is like looking at a statue. He leaves the hospital and walks back to the hotel in the rain.