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Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot

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The story revolves around a compulsively jealous husband, the unnamed first-person narrator of the story. The story opens abruptly, with the narrator sitting on a perch in his cage in a pet store in Houston, having been reincarnated somehow as a yellow-nape Amazon parrot. One day, his former wife, accompanied by what he assumes must be her current lover, enters the store and is drawn to him. She buys him and takes him back to their former home, where she keeps him in a cage in the den. Despite his physical and, to a degree psychological, transformation, he is still jealous of his former wife’s latest lover. He is limited, however, to taking out his resentment on the bird toys in his cage.

In a flashback, the narrator reviews the circumstances that led to his death as a human. His wife had always had lovers, and after becoming suspicious that a new employee at her office had become the latest in that series, he found out where the man lived and went to his house. The narrator climbed a tree in an attempt to look through a window to catch his wife and the man together but died after falling from his perch. No explanation is offered as to the mechanism of his reincarnation.

Over time he becomes more and more birdlike, distancing himself from his jealousy as his thoughts increasingly turn to flying away and escaping. One day his wife leaves the door to his cage open, and he tries to fly to freedom. The sliding glass doors through which he sees the sky, trees, and other birds outside are closed, however, and he flies headfirst into them. When he eventually sees his wife and her new lover naked, he finds them more pitiful than beautiful or threatening, and his jealousy appears to have given way to sympathy. Already injured by flying into the doors that lead outside, he resolves to continue to throw himself against the glass. The story ends with the implication that his response to this new existence, though motivated by a desire for freedom rather than revenge, will have the same fatal result as his response to his former situation.

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