Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 745
"I daresay she’s fool enough to marry you," was all Foster said. "And then," he used to relate, "he puts his hat on his head, looks black at me as if he wanted to cut my throat, whistles the dog, and off he goes, leaving me to do the work." The Fosters, of course, didn’t like to lose the wages the girl earned: Amy used to give all her money to her mother. But there was in Foster a very genuine aversion to that match. He contended that the fellow was very good with sheep, but was not fit for any girl to marry.
No one has an impression of Amy being a particularly intelligent woman. However, Yanko falls in love with her and clearly takes offense to her father's summation of her intelligence. Perhaps this is because Yanko is also underestimated by everyone in England due to his lack of English language skills and seemingly strange habits. Amy herself was always loyal to her family and willing to return home to help with her siblings, even when she was working miles away to earn money for the family. Her father, Isaac, was married to a woman that his father disapproved of but still disapproved of the match that his daughter wanted to make.
I had heard already of domestic differences. People were saying that Amy Foster was beginning to find out what sort of man she had married. He looked upon the sea with indifferent, unseeing eyes. His wife had snatched the child out of his arms one day as he sat on the doorstep crooning to it a song such as the mothers sing to babies in his mountains. She seemed to think he was doing it some harm. Women are funny. And she had objected to him praying aloud in the evening. Why? He expected the boy to repeat the prayer aloud after him by-and-by, as he used to do after his old father when he was a child — in his own country. And I discovered he longed for their boy to grow up so that he could have a man to talk with in that language that to our ears sounded so disturbing, so passionate, and so bizarre. Why his wife should dislike the idea he couldn’t tell. But that would pass, he said. And tilting his head knowingly, he tapped his breastbone to indicate that she had a good heart: not hard, not fierce, open to compassion, charitable to the poor!
Fear of the unknown haunts Amy in their marriage. Though Dr. Kennedy says that she loved her husband, she was scared of what she saw as his strange habits. Amy was not worldly or experienced; she didn't have experience with other cultures and had never left the area where she was born. She is described as simple and dull. She was clearly not trying to be cruel to the man she loved, but at the same time, she was demoralizing him, and the fact that she couldn't accept his past pushed them apart. Yanko didn't understand why it bothered her so much, because he had been so accepting of each place he had visited and the differences that each offered.
It is impossible to say whether this name recalls anything to her. Does she ever think of the past? I have seen her hanging over the boy’s cot in a very passion of maternal tenderness. The little fellow was lying on his back, a little frightened at me, but very still, with his big black eyes, with his fluttered air of a bird...
(This entire section contains 745 words.)
in a snare. And looking at him I seemed to see again the other one—the father, cast out mysteriously by the sea to perish in the supreme disaster of loneliness and despair.
Yanko died a tragic death. He was ill and asked his wife for water in his native language; she was scared by the words she didn't understand and fled from him. He died the next day after telling Dr. Kennedy that he had only been asking for water. Amy spent the rest of her life up until the beginning of the story, at least, caring for their son, Johnny, and never speaks about Yanko now. It's as if he has vanished from her mind now that he's no longer there to inspire love and passion in her. Dr. Kennedy says that when he looks at Johnny, he sees Yanko.