Social Concerns / Characters
A Woman Destroyed is a collection of three short stories: "The Age of Discretion," "Monologue," and "Woman Destroyed." They share the same theme — fear of aging and loneliness, and the realization of a failed life. Each story is narrated by the woman protagonist. The focus is on the relationships which the woman has formed with her children and husband. In "The Age of Discretion" the main character is afraid that old age will diminish her creativity as a writer. She deceives herself about her relationship with her son whose life and career she has tried to dominate. When he announces that he is abandoning the career his mother had chosen for him in order to take a government position of which both parents disapprove, her life is shattered. The importance of the problem of aging meanwhile is kept in focus through the story's presentation in the form of a diary.
In "Monologue" self-deception is carried to the extreme. The "monologue" is that of an aging woman who has lost a daughter through suicide and a son through separation from her husband. In her mistaken belief that she exists in the eyes of others only if she has a family, she wants her son back. Through the monologue Beauvoir skillfully reveals step by step the self-deception of the narrator. Not only has she driven her daughter to suicide through her tyranny and excessive possessiveness, but she is responsible as well for the loss of her husband.
"Woman Destroyed" is the longest of the three stories. It is the account of a woman whose world collapses because of her husband's desertion. Considering the love between her husband and herself too solid ever to be shaken, Monique fails to understand that nothing in life is permanent. Beauvoir describes the awakening to reality by the wife-narrator, her despair over the loss of her husband to another...
(The entire section is 469 words.)