Formalist Critism

Topics: Marriage, Interracial marriage, Mind Pages: 3 (1087 words) Published: March 22, 2013
John Radcliffe

Perception Skews Reality
In “Say Yes”, by Tobias Wolff, the plot is written in the second person. The protagonist is a husband that disagrees with his wife Ann on a discussion of interracial and intercultural marriage because the husband believes that cultural differences do not mix well in marriage. After further discourse, the husband refuses to marry Ann if she was hypothetically black. The story suggests that perceptions create false realities. This idea can be shown when comparing how the husband creates a perceived reality, how this reality compares to his actual reality during the events of the night, and how the implied true reality contrast with his perceived reality. The first step is to establish that his perceptions shaped his reality; not the reverse in which his reality shaped his perceptions. The author developed the plot to show that even though Ann defined a new reality apart from her husband’s perception, which is based on normalities and statistics, he still chooses not to marry Ann on the sole fact that she would be black. She created this new reality by asking hypothetical questions that eliminated parts of the reality he seemed to be drawing his opinions about interracial marriage from. She created this new reality when she asks, “I’m black, but still me, and we fall in love. Will you marry me?” (Barnet 32). This statement redefined the conditions that Ann’s husband would have to answer under, but he still chose not marry her. This fact shows that his perceptions held more sway then reality. Wolff uses Irony to show that the husband’s perceptions shape his reality when he cannot see anything in the dark because the lights are turned off. He can’t perceive Ann physically, and at that moment, he says he will marry her. The Irony is portrayed because she becomes black due to the darkness, but the Husband says he will marry her. This creates a contrast from when he can physically see her and tells her he will...
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