Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 353
The narrator declares that
It is perilous to make a chasm in human affections; not that they gape so long and wide—but so quickly close again!
Wakefield left his home and his wife behind, never really considering the ways in which life would go on without him. In fact, the narrator describes him as possessing a "peculiar sort of vanity," so perhaps he expected that life would sort of stop for his wife once he left. However, the narrator says,
Poor Wakefield! Little knowest thou thine own insignificance in this great world!
His wife does grieve the loss of him, to be sure; she actually becomes gravely ill for a little while, but she recovers soon enough and "settles" into life as a presumed widow. In other words, then, it is dangerous to create such a depth of pain in someone else's affections because one may find that, even worse than the idea that they may suffer and grieve one forever is the idea that they may not suffer for nearly as long as one might expect.
Changes occur in Wakefield as well. On the first night of his absence from home,
He gathers courage to pause and look homeward, but is perplexed with a sense of change about the familiar edifice, such as affects us all, when, after a separation of months or years, we again see some hill or lake, or work of art, with which we were friends of old. In ordinary cases, this indescribable impression is caused by the comparison and contrast between our imperfect reminiscences and the reality. In Wakefield, the magic of a single night has wrought a similar transformation [...].
In a sense, then, one can never really go home again; or, at least, it will never feel the way it once felt when one returns after an absence. It isn't that home has necessarily changed, but we do, and when we leave home—for whatever reason—whatever compelled us to leave stays with us, and because we are changed forever by the experience of leaving, so home is changed forever in our perception of it.
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