A post World War II marriage was often one in which the husband cared about his reputation and standing in society rather than about loving his wife passionately and unconditionally. Through the use of diction, tone, and irony, Katherine Brush illustrates how depressing and dismal a post World War II marriage can be when either spouse is more focused on proprieties of society.
Brush's portrayal of the relationship shared between the husband and wife in this story is one that deals with the superiority issue between a husband and wife. The wife plans “a little surprise” for her husband, he is “hotly embarrassed” by it and scolds her “under his breath- some punishing thing, quick and curt and unkind” after her surprise has lost the attention of others in the restaurant. The husband masks any kindness or gratitude he could have shown to his wife for taking him out to eat on his birthday and instead replaces that kindness and gratitude by indignation and hotness. Too practical for superficial romance, the husband can be seen as asserting his position as the head of the household through his obsession with his position in society. .
The beginning line of the story describes the couple as the average one; “in their thirties...unmistakably married.” It's as if they're mundane, no more different than any other couple sitting in the restaurant at the time. They sit in a “narrow restaurant,” which could be used to show their overall myopic and shortsighted views of each other's meaning of marriage. Besides Brush's confidence booster for the husband, “self-satisfied,” the husband isn't described in detail. He is confident with his social status, himself, and maybe even the status of his marriage. His wife is “fadingly pretty,” which doesn't quite set her apart from any other woman in society, besides her high hopes for meaningful romance. Brush emphasizes the couple's commonality even more so by saying, “There was nothing...
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