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Last Updated on October 8, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 611

That’s how many of these parties I have had to go to and play merry. I should be happy for them, I know, but each time I think, Why ain’t it me? 

Though she sews intimate apparel for other women’s marriages, seamstress Esther Mills is not yet married and longs for a husband. Esther hopes that after sewing for so many marriages, she will one day have her own. In the course of the play, Esther finds a husband; however, her marriage proves to be a disappointment.

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Don’t think me too forward, but I thought it would be nice to have someone to think about, someone not covered head to toe in mud, someone to ward off this awful boredom. 

Intimacy, Esther believes, presents itself in the form of George Armstrong, a Barbadian man working on the Panama Canal who writes her a letter. George writes this to Esther in his first letter, in which he explains that he works alongside the son of a deacon at her church and asks if he may write to her to fend off boredom and, he implies, depression.

I live in a rooming house with seven unattached women and sew intimate apparel for ladies, but that ain’t for a gentleman’s eyes. Sure I can tell him anything there is to know about fabric, but that hardly seems a life worthy of words. 

Esther and George begin a correspondence that feigns intimacy; in reality, though, both receive help from others to write the letters. While visiting a client, Mrs. Van Buren, Esther expresses her reservations about writing to George. She feels that her life is not worth narrating and fears she will have nothing of interest to write to him. Esther is illiterate, so Mrs. Van Buren offers to write a reply to George for Esther.

He keeps a wealth of fabric in that apartment. He got everything you need, even things you don’t know you need—

While Esther feels that her job as a seamstress and her knowledge of fabric are not interesting enough to write to George about, they form the basis of her relationship with Mr. Marks, the Romanian Jewish man who sells her fabric. Both Marks and Esther appear to wish that their relationship could go beyond that of a client and supplier: they have feelings for each other but are prevented from having a...

(The entire section contains 611 words.)

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