Astronomers Wife – Just a Simple Complex Tale

Astronomers Wife – Just a Simple Complex Tale

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Astronomers Wife – Just a Simple Complex Tale     


Kay Boyle's literary piece titled "Astronomers Wife", is a mental exercise.
Every word and every line has an important meaning to it. Interpretation is
a critical skill in understanding everything Boyle's story has to offer.


Although this piece has a lot of sophistication to it, the story line is
rather simple. The time period is the early 1900's and the story is
regarding a rather young husband and a wife, in there late twenties to mid
thirties. The couple lives out on the country side of the United States
where houses are far from one another and the land is scenically beautiful.
Although their surroundings are beautiful, the couples marriage is not.
There is no love expressed between the two. Mrs. Ames goes about her daily
routine, day in and day out. Mr. Ames is an astronomy professor who has more
love for his profession than for his wife. The professor is a quiet man who
uses his wife as somebody to cook his food, clean his clothes, and take care
of the house. Mrs. Ames, a young woman in her late twenties, is living the
life of sixty year old lady. Her days have no excitement in them what so
ever. She isn't able to experience the stimulating life there is to live at
her age. The couple does have a young woman servant who is there to help,
which shows the two are doing fine financially.


One night Mrs. Ames heard the sound of water in the hallway outside the
bedroom. The next morning she got up bright and early to deal with the
problem of the overflowing toilet by contacting a plumber. The plumber comes
to the house and the young servant girl answers the door. She calls up to
Mrs. Ames and tells her the man is here. Mrs. Ames gets up, puts on her
white and scarlet smock, and in a whispering voice, as not to wake her
husband, tells the man to come up the stairs. He does so politely, and right
away, gets to his job of soaking up the large puddle in the middle of the
upstairs hallway. The plumber is respectful and has manors, something Mrs.
Ames notices considerably that is missing from her husband.
After staring at the toilet for a few minutes, the plumber tells Mrs. Ames

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that the water to the house must be turned off, and she quickly replies
saying she has already done so. The plumber knows the problem without
question. He is stable with his work, and therefore reliable with his
answers, something that Professor Ames is not. Mrs. Ames didn't know what to
say back to the plumber, because she is unused to a man who is so
understandable and to the point when he talks. Mrs. Ames just stares in
amazement and is just so marveled by this mans productiveness that she looks
deep into his pretty blue eyes with a smile upon her face. After staring,
she jumps to the subject of her husband due to the plumber talking about
construction and plumbing since those topics are usually discussed among
men. She says how these topics must be very interesting. The plumber tells
Mrs. Ames the solution to the problem, grimly, since the problem is not a
very big deal, but Mrs. Ames reacts as if the problem is something terrible.
Once the problem is explained to her, she feels more comfortable because she
knows this man is sure of what he is talking about and will be able to fix
the problem.


While Mrs. Ames walks the plumber towards the stairs, the astronomer calls
out to his wife, whose name is Katherine, and in a ringing voice tells her
to come because there is a problem. Mrs. Ames didn't look nor even respond
to her husbands request and continues to escort the plumber down the stairs.
The plumber leads Mrs. Ames to the storm drain and tells her that this is
where he will detect exactly what the problem is. He offers to show her
around down in the drain, but she is confused and thinks as if he wants her
husband to go down with him. She turns down the offer when she realizes that
she is the one being offered, and just sits on the grass while the plumber
goes about his job. When the plumber does come up from the drain, Mrs. Ames
is waiting there diligently, quickly he has an explanation for the problem
and knows exactly how to fix it.


While this work is all going on outside the house, the astronomer is still
at rest in his bed room. The plumber once again offers Mrs. Ames to come
down into the storm drain to see the problem. She agrees to, and tells the
servant to tell Mr. Ames that the problem is very very serious and that she
has gone down. The plumber politely takes the astronomers wives hand and
leads her down into the storm drain. The plumber leads her down the drain in
way as if he is leading her into a new life, one with him, one that will
give her a better life. Her marriage is one that has negatively affected her
life in a major way, and a relationship in which she would benefit from
losing.


The short story summarized above illustrates that when one person feels the
loss of love in a relationship, that unhappy person will seek the affection
elsewhere. Marriage is meant to conjoin the love of two people when they
feel they are meant to be together and perfect for each other.
To fix the problem, a new character comes along and gives the unhappy
spouse exactly what she has been missing, somebody that is able to give the
affection and love that she has not had. When people don't feel loved, it is
only natural for them to move on and find a new mate. This marriage has
turned Mrs. Ames life into that of a robot; every day is the same, she
wouldn't be able to look back and tell the difference from one day to
another. This story is just an example of one relationship out of millions
that end up the exact same way; unhappy, unhealthy, unsocialable, and
unfulfilling. Mr. Ames finds more interest in his profession than he does in
his wife, definitely a clear indication of why his wife feels the way she
does.


Every scene in the story is described in words that make it out to be much
more than it sounds like. All the details help enrich this story, and make
it easier to look deeper into. The major characters involved are Mrs. Ames
and the plumber. The husband is talked about a lot by the wife, yet he is
only a minor character since he is not physically involved with the
storyline at hand. The only other character, the servant girl, is a minor
character as well considering she is only involved with two scenes
throughout the whole piece.


In the beginning of the story the wife has thoughts about the husband and
how he seems to be trying to leave, but she is there for him every day at
all times and therefore he can not leave her because he would not survive,
it's as if he is being pulled back each and every time by her actions. She
explains it in the form of a wave that is moving forward, but always ends up
getting pulled back by the undertow. The scenes described about Mr. and Mrs.
Ames don't necessarily say that the two are in relationship trouble, but the
expressions, actions, and thoughts described of the characters is a clear
symbol of the marriage confliction. Neither the plumber nor Mrs. Ames say a
word that would directly relate to them being interested in each other, but
with the narrating of the scenes, it is clear that there is more than just a
plumbing problem being fixed. The repeated imagery in the story, such as the
way Mrs. Ames talks about her husband, is key in describing her relationship
with him; one that is dominated by a controlling force. The way Mrs. Ames
acts around her husband is not described directly, but is able to be
perceived by the reader because of the way she speaks of him to the plumber.
This wedded couple is rather young, but the way they are described in the
story makes it seem like they are in there fifties or sixties, an age in
which the people are too old for change since they are well through half of
their life. However, that is not the case in this story. This couple is
young, and able to take action in change without affecting the rest of their
life. The use of good imagery in this story leaves it open to
interpretation, discussion, and meaning.


Many details of this story could be symbolic to the situation at hand. In
the first paragraph the wife gets up without even a moment of pause, as if
she were always on call, which would relate to her always being there for
her husband; as opposed to him never being there for her. The wealth of the
family is described by the surroundings around their house, the clothes that
Mrs. Ames wears, and the fact that hey have a servant girl, all of which
relate to them being well off. Mrs. Ames wears her white and scarlet smock
all the way up, this associates with the style of past years, as well as a
female that covers most of her skin as opposed to being one that wears short
shorts or a tank top. The puddle in the hallway would normally be dealt with
by the husband since the male is usually the one in charge of keeping the
house in order. However, the wife is the one dealing with this problem with
no interaction from her husband.


When the plumber comes to the door, Mrs. Ames is atop the stairwell waiting
for the plumber to come up to her. She softly calls for the man as if she
were an angel calling him to come up from below. She is careful not to wake
the professor, and this is the first time she has referred to him as a
professor, she is trying to ad authority to herself and her husband. The
fact that he is a professor imposes that he is smart, serious, and earns
good money. The plumber looking up the stairs is like a tough macho guy
looking up at a pretty innocent angel of a girl. This plumber is respectful
and has good manors, both symbolic of what a woman is looking for in a mate.
When the plumber gets up stairs, the two walk around the puddle as if they
are romantically walking around a lake. The plumber has good physique and is
polite at the same time, in other words, any woman's dream guy.
More symbolism is shown in where the couple lives. They have beautiful
countryside, and there house is very nice, yet they don't appear to be
happy. This is basically defining how money can buy anything but love. The
leak itself is symbolic because it brought change into Mrs. Ames' life, as
well as the plumber, without the leak this would not be a story. The plumber
put a towel down on the puddle to create an island look, he then stepped
onto it. It's like the plumber has finally come to help this woman who is
stuck on a shore just off of this island, but the barrier of water between
them is pure and it's a smooth ride, one in which neither one would have any
trouble crossing. This clear path between the two represents them meaning to
be with each other. As the plumber stands there he overlooks Mrs. Ames'
body, he is obviously physically attracted to her. The plumber knows how to
go about explaining the problem to Mrs. Ames, which is the exact opposite of
her husband. She is unfamiliar with the man having authority, and she is
enjoying it because it brings comfort to her in every way; somebody else
besides her has taken charge.


Both the plumber and Mrs. Ames walk toward the stairwell leading
downstairs. Mr. Ames calls out to his wife for assistance with something,
however, for the first time ever in her marriage to him she ignores him. The
way the husband calls for her is demanding and abrupt, not soothing nor
caring sounding in any way, the total opposite from the plumber. She ignores
her husband because for once she has more important business to take care of
than him, in this case a man that cares for her. The two of them walk down
the stairs to where it is bright beautiful and colorful, all signs of nature
which represent happiness and love. Mrs. Ames did not feel any shame in
passing by her husband without helping him, which represents her being ready
to leave him. As the plumber examines the drain, he tells Mrs. Ames that the
drain leads to the other side of the forest, in other words, somewhere that
they could be happy together. Woman would cling to floating debris when they
need to make it through the sea to a safe island just like they would cling
to a man to make it through tough times in life and stay with him
throughout. The plumber kneeled down to put his finger through the ring of
the drain as if he were kneeling down and proposing to take Mrs. Ames to a
new life. He was looking into her eyes, and his hair was the color of gold,
something that all woman see attractive. He has proposed to her in words to
go with him into the drain, just like he would ask her to marry him. He is
offering her to see what it is like in his world. He was opening the iron
drain just like he would be opening the iron door leading into his life, it
was up to Mrs. Ames if she wanted to take the offer or not. Mrs. Ames smiles
thinking her husband would never go down there because he only goes up,
towards the heavens, therefore she would be safe down there with him. Mrs.
Ames is starting to think hard and understand everything. Her husband goes
up, just like his mind will, this plumber goes down, just like his body
will. This plumber has positive inspiring thoughts; herbs make you young
again, just like he could do to her. A good rain will quench a draught just
like a good man would quench the needs of a distraught woman. As Mrs. Ames
decides to go with the plumber into the drain, or rather his life, she calls
back to the servant girl and orders her to tell the professor that the
trouble is very very serious. In the story, the plumbing problem is not very
serious what so ever, the seriousness in the fact that she is leaving her
husband to find happiness with another man. Mrs. Ames has stepped into the
world of a man that has a whole lot more to offer than her husband ever did,
she will finally be happy again.


This literature contains a lot more than meets the eye. The story itself is
so simple, yet there is so much detail within. The theme of a relationship
gone bad is so common, but this piece glorifies the action that takes place.
Each sentence within the story has more to say than just what's on top. Many
of the themes described are symbolic. There is opposition in each characters
words because their dialogue is always able to lead down two different
paths; one which focuses on what the character is saying, and one which
focuses on what is meant by what the character is saying. This enriches a
classic old story into one that is exciting and thought provoking to read.
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