Entrapment in A Country Love Story Essay example

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Entrapment in A Country Love Story

May and Daniel, in Jean Stafford's "A Country Love Story," epitomize the essential differences between men and women. Once apparently a happily married couple, May and Daniel exhibit their engendered differences after Daniel falls ill. While Daniel becomes more reclusive, May longs to reestablish the intimacy that they once had. Daniel's self-consumed and overbearing attitudes will not allow for such a relationship, though. The growing tension between them reflects the traditional sexual politics in their culture. As a result, May struggles to free herself from not only her husband, but also from the patriarchal code that entraps her.

This patriarchal code in which May is caught is
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Later, May "tip-toes" around Daniel in fear of upsetting him; she "[holds] her tongue" and tries not to disturb him (412). Even after Daniel yells at her, May continues to play her submissive domestic role by asking him "if he would have more coffee" (419).

Daniel's attitude toward May is clearly a patriarchal one. May is not his intellectual equal, but someone to whom he can talk down. Daniel shows his sense of authority by telling May to leave him alone and "'stop being a child'" (416). In addition, Daniel constantly insinuates that May is the cause of his attacks on her. Because Daniel feels that she is responsible, he feels resentful toward her. He goes even further to suggest to her that she is mentally unstable and may even have "a slight disorder of the mind" (423). May is not someone Daniel loves so much as someone he can take his frustration out on and blame for everything that is wrong in his life.

The patriarchal code goes beyond May's feminine character. The language of the story also possesses a distinct feminine quality, especially when describing May and Daniel's relationship. To May, their love has become "choked off, overgrown, invisible" -- a garden filled with weeds (417). Her attempt to restore their relationship is an attempt to tend an unkempt garden. The patriarchal code that May lives under seems to appoint "Mother Earth" as entirely feminine. All things dealing with nature

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