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A Sorrowful Woman by Gail Godwin

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A. The characters have no names in A Sorrowful Woman by Gail Godwin because naming them would identify them.  She purposefully does not identify them except by calling them the man, the woman, the boy, and the girl.  By doing this, these characters could be any man, woman, boy, or girl.

This could be any family or babysitter.  The woman is the protagonist because she is the one who must endure the conflict of the story while the illness is the antagonist.  It is what makes a wedge between the woman, her family, and the world.  The woman wants to overcome what troubles her and be what others need her to be as much as her husband wants to understand and cannot, but this unhappiness keeps her from it.

The husband is a static character because he does not change.  He tells himself and his wife that he has changed, but he never gives any indication that he does.  His roles change as he takes on all of the adult roles in the house, but his understanding does not.  The wife is dynamic.  She knows that something is wrong, but she does not know what to do about it.  She knows that she is becoming a bad mother.  She tries hard to bring to family what is expected, but nothing works.  She is dynamic because she identifies that she has a problem and she tries to overcome it even if she is unsuccessful.

B. I empathize more with the husband of the story A Sorrowful Woman by Gail Godwin. It is difficult to know that someone you love has a problem and feel utterly helpless because you do not know what to do.  You find yourself saying that you understand when you do not.  You even convince yourself that you comprehend the problem.  That only isolates the other individual more.

This man takes on more of the work load, he tries to comfort, and he completely takes on the care of the boy while he is at home.  He even provides the woman with hired help.  He does not complain once.  To make her feel attractive, he reshapes their relationship into dates so that she will feel better about herself.  Yet it is the man who will have to pick up the pieces of his life and his son’s life after she is gone.  It is difficult to understand what is going on inside the head of another person.

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