“The Wide Net” is a story about the conflict between the needs of the individual and the claims of the community. Young, pregnant Hazel Jamieson feels that the primary allegiance of her husband, William Wallace Jamieson, should be to her. When he stays out all night drinking with his friends, Hazel interprets his action as a rejection of her and of their marriage. She decides to take action.
When he arrives home, William Wallace finds a note from Hazel indicating that she has gone to drown herself. He is shocked. All he can think of is to turn once again to his friends, to the very people who got him into difficulty in the first place. Because they are used to the unfathomable ways of women, they have a remedy for every kind of trouble that women can cause men, even the threat of suicide. Although they cannot prevent Hazel from killing herself, the men can provide the necessary procedure for recovering the body: They must gather by the river and drag it with a wide net until Hazel is found.
At first, the mood is suitably gloomy; however, as the day progresses, the atmosphere becomes festive. Other people join them. With the net, they bring up a baby alligator and an eel. They swim. They feast. At times, even William Wallace forgets the occasion of the gathering in the general excitement.
At the end of the day, the gathering disperses, and William Wallace must go home. He has cut his foot, and he needs someone to take care of it...
(The entire section is 419 words.)