Summary

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 428

“A Country Love Story” focuses on a couple, May and her much older husband, Daniel—a college professor recuperating from an illness (presumably tuberculosis)—and their relationship set against the rural isolation of an old house in the country, to which they have just moved to aid in Daniel’s convalescence.

Though the...

(The entire section contains 428 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this A Country Love Story study guide. You'll get access to all of the A Country Love Story content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Analysis
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

“A Country Love Story” focuses on a couple, May and her much older husband, Daniel—a college professor recuperating from an illness (presumably tuberculosis)—and their relationship set against the rural isolation of an old house in the country, to which they have just moved to aid in Daniel’s convalescence.

Though the story begins with emphasis on May’s and Daniel’s failure to follow through on their plan to remove an antique sleigh that stands in the yard (a symbol of both erosion and hope that resurfaces throughout the story), on their increasing silence as winter comes on, and on May’s original lack of enthusiasm for the seeming exile from Boston, these negatives are balanced by the couple’s love for the country house, their regained intimacy (“it was like a second honeymoon”), and their mutual pleasure in reading, gardening, and repairing the new home. The crucial change occurs with the arrival of autumn, when Daniel withdraws to his historical research and May finds that she has nothing to fill her days; her complaints elicit from Daniel a heretofore unrecognized tendency toward passive-aggressive behavior. He puts May on the defensive and keeps her there by means of his self-pity, his preoccupation with blame, and his condescending to her as childish.

May does not seem to understand the sources or implications of his changes: His year in the sanitarium Dr. Tellenbach describes as “like living with an exacting mistress,” an image that hints at Daniel’s suspicion that May had an affair during their separation. It also does not occur to her that the year’s illness has made mortality very clear and personal to her husband and that he now resents her for her youthfulness and health. All this is disguised as repeated attacks on her mental state. May does seem to understand subconsciously, however, for she creates a lover where none existed before and through the winter concentrates on bringing him more and more to life, until finally he sits in the sleigh, a pale young man from an earlier era, a kind of romantic and antique image of Daniel himself.

In the final scene, Daniel unwittingly but appropriately superimposes himself on the image of the lover in May’s dream, bringing May back to the unpleasant reality and the shock of admitting that he is “old” and “ill” and now very much dependent on her, that the imaginary lover is gone forever, and that she is “like an orphan in solitary confinement.” There is not the smallest spark to brighten this last morning.

Illustration of PDF document

Download A Country Love Story Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Next

Themes