The Demise of a Family in Gail Godwin's A Sorrowful Woman

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The Demise of a Family in Gail Godwin's A Sorrowful Woman

Gail Godwin's "A Sorrowful Woman<" leads one to believe that the wife is overwhelmed or possibly just having a bad day. The belief is that with her husband's understanding she and her family will get through this difficult time. Everyone has a bad day and people get aggravated at times. However, a shocking revelation comes to the reader that this isn't just a bad day. A deeper look into the story reveals that the wife's selfishness and pity for her life is fueling her sorrow and along with their lack of communication causes the demise of this family.

In reading this story we find a woman tired of being a mother, a wife and of her life in general. "The sight of them made her so sad and sick she did not want to ever see them again" (35). Do you not see what she is thinking? They are sucking the life out of me. Why did I choose to get married? I could have been anything, instead I am the mother of this child and the wife of this man and am here to take care of their needs. Who will take care of my needs? She feels that she is some how letting herself ease away and needs to regain her identity. She soon isolates herself even more by moving into another room maybe thinking she will be able to find the part of herself she has lost. "She was a young queen, a virgin in a tower, she was the previous inhabitant, the girl with all the energies. She tried these personalities on like costumes" (38).

Her husband's constant saying he understands such things only seems to enable her to isolate herself more and ignore her responsibilities as a mother. If the tending to the child is such a pleasure why hasn't he done it enough to know how to put him to bed...

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... his statement, "Can we eat the turkey for super?" (39). His mother lies lifeless in her bed and his father is evidently upset.

This family's lack of communication allows the situation to get out of control and in a downward spin that alone they can not handle. Problems do not just get better on their own. You must determine what they are and work out a solution to correct them. The child's skills for handling problems and working through them are not being developed. He is not learning to handle responsibilities but that it's okay to run from them. This family's actions or lack of actions and the mother's selfishness is what destroyed this family and surely scarred this child for life.


Godwin, Gail. "A Sorrowful Woman." The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 6th. ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin's, 2002. 35-39.
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