Carson McCuller’s story “A Domestic Dilemma” depicts a family torn by both compassion and suffering. Martin, a loving and understanding husband must deal with his family’s problems. Martin’s wife, Emily, distraught by her new environment, initiates her family’s difficulties with her drinking habits. The story examines a family’s severe problems, and yet also illustrates the depth of love and loyalty that allows people to survive adversity. McCullers examines within the depth of one family how the full spectrum of love can destroy the romantics of love.
The conflicts in the family surround Martin and Emily’s relationship. Emily’s drinking habits initiate a confrontation with Martin. When Martin inquires about his wife’s earlier drinking, she immediately responds “because I drink a couple of sherries in the afternoon you’re trying to make out a drunkard” in a sharp, unforgiving tone(99). According to Roberta Caplan, some people may drink abusively during a personal crisis and then resume normal drinking (Groiler) which explains Emily’s “rhythmic sorrow” filled with “alcohol”(102). In addition, fear and worry for his wife an children make Martin feel uneasy. Returning from work a year ago, Martin stumbled upon his children crying and his wife intoxicated after the baby had been dropped on her “frail skull”(100). Martin then hired a maid in order to watch the children and look after Emily(100). Significantly, the setting...
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