The Underlying Truths of Marriage
Marriage is the social institution in which a man and a woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitment and, often, by religious ceremony. This institution assures that the most basic fabric of a society remains intact. Nonetheless, those who have actually taken the vows of matrimony realize that a successful marriage requires so much more than an understanding of the dictionary definition. They know that this powerful commitment is the most intimate manner in which to show not only one’s love for another, but also one’s steadfast honor in remaining true to this lifetime promise. In Tobias Wolff’s “Say Yes,” a wife and her husband, while washing the dinner dishes, find themselves straying onto the topic of interracial marriage. Quickly, the tension between the two escalates into more than just an everyday chat. Wolff’s domestic tale explores a marriage in which a wife’s gentle spirit is juxtaposed against the belligerent aggression of her husband; Ann’s passive ingenuity in confronting her husband’s superficiality renders hope that their love will endure.
As a mundane exchange concerning the events of their day intensifies into a heated disagreement, the husband’s desire to dominate becomes evident. When his wife “pinches her brows together and bites her lower lip,” he realizes that “he should keep his mouth shut, but he never did.” Her husband understands that the woman he has married is painfully disconcerted, yet he continues to harass her belligerently to fortify his control. By citing statistics and facts as his evidence for his position on this controversial topic, he proves his inability, or refusal, to explore the much less tangible facets of his thoughts. Despite his over-riding ego, he arrogantly believes that he is the quintessential mate, as he has overheard someone compliment his wife on having a husband who assists with the housework. Afterwards, he applauded himself...
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