Opposites attract. In the short story “The Sentimentality of William Tavener” by Willa Cather, this saying is never so easily understood. Protagonist Hester Perkins is a domineering woman, who is completely unlike the easygoing character of her husband, William Tavener. In this story, the static character of William Tavener and the dynamic character of Hester Perkins provide a flawless contrast that captures the reader’s attention until the very end. Throughout the story, William Tavener is portrayed as calm, quiet, and docile so he perfectly counteracts the character of Hester. Although William and Hester have ordinary lives with their children, William’s calm nature in dealing with his children appears to frustrate his wife, Hester. During the day the boys ask their mother about going to the circus in town. Hester wants them to go, but first must talk it over with William. She tries to drop hints, but he takes no notice. At dinner Hester begins making sarcastic remarks, and Billy (William’s youngest son) runs away from the dinner table trying not to cry. William knows that Hester is preparing to argue with him but “If he had noticed his wife’s agitation, his calm, clean-shaven face betrayed no sign of concern.” (p 53) Here the reader sees that William is not going to let the agitation of Hester disturb his inner calm. William knew this was coming, yet he “…Never heeded ominous forecasts in the domestic horizon, and never looked for a storm until it broke.” (p 53) He is unwilling to disturb his calm unless it is absolutely necessary. Why would he need to worry incessantly about something that has not happened yet? Finally, Hester unleashes her tirade on him. William, unheeding “…Continued to read his farm paper…” (p 53) Normally when people argue, everyone is screaming and upset. William makes this argument one-sided. Hester can scream all she wants, but William will continue with his business unmindful of what she says....
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