(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

On its surface, “Say Yes” concerns racism, specifically, opposition to interracial love and marriage. The unnamed protagonist and his wife, Ann, both white, discuss the subject. They quarrel, or at least disagree, and nothing is resolved except that they are really fighting about their own relationship.

Sitting in any kitchen in any house in the white suburbs of America, this typical middle-class couple are doing nothing more than talking while doing the dishes one night after dinner. Most of the two-thousand-word story is dialogue about this one topic: Can two people who are from different backgrounds love and understand each other completely and meaningfully?

The husband argues “no” and the wife argues “yes,” but neither offers convincing arguments. The husband appeals to practicality, citing divorce statistics that show that such relationships are doomed to separation and failure. By contrast, Ann cites an abstract ideal of love, which would have it that if two people love each other they should be able to overcome such obstacles no matter what.

The tension builds as they snap and quip at each other, both being careful not to cross an unstated line over which they cannot retreat. In her nervousness, Ann cuts her thumb on a knife in the dirty dishwater. When she bleeds, her husband gives her every kind of attention in the forms of rubbing alcohol, bandages, and sympathy.

As the husband continues to dry the...

(The entire section is 487 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

The unnamed husband and his wife, Ann, are washing and drying the dishes when they begin to discuss interracial marriages. The husband says...

(The entire section is 579 words.)