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Short Story Analysis: They’re Not Your Husband Essay Sample

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Short Story Analysis: They’re Not Your Husband Essay Sample

The short story “They’re not your husband” by Raymond carver focuses on multiple different themes. Earl is a jobless salesman who is embarrassed with the appearance of his wife Doreen and becomes very controlling over her. The conversation between two man talking about the way that his wife looks triggered his behavior and lead him to become so possessive of his wife appearance. Earl sees his wife more as an object than a person and also as a way to cover up his insecurities. From the beginning of the story the theme of embarrassment was explored.

When Earl showed up to Doreen job he was embarrassed by the comment made by two man. The two man stated “Some jokers like their quim fat” (Carver 18), Earl was extremely embarrassed by that remark to the point he left. It seems as Earl is very insecure due to the fact that he was being called a joker for having Doreen as his wife. His wife appearance relates back to him, because they technically represent each other. This is definitely a form of insecurity because he does not say anything to them rather just leave. It seems as if he was mostly worried about himself rather than his wife Doreen.

Earl let’s people\’s opinions of him play a part on his life, as if he needs someone’s consent on whether or not his wife looks good. Physical appearance is an reoccurring theme in this story. Earl was so bothered by the remarks made about his wife that he demanded that she went on a diet and lose weight. Even though Doreen didn’t really want to go through with it he insisted that she did. Rather than accepting her for the way she is and the way she looks he tried to change her instead. That is how Earl copes with his insecurities. He forces his wife to lose weight to make him feel better of himself and for his pride.

It seems as if he doesn’t really have much love or respect for his wife, which is pretty clear when he insisted that she went on a diet. If he truly cared for her like a husband is supposed to care for their wife, then he should have stood up for his wife when the men were making fun of her appearance. Instead, he hid away in shame and embarrassment. He notices the veins on her legs and frowns. This shows how uncomfortable Earl is with Doreen’s appearance. Again Earl appears to be unable to accept Doreen for who she is. It may also be significant that at no stage does Earl ask Doreen how she is feeling.

As the story continues the reader also senses that Earl has become obsessional. Doreen is an obedient and respectful wife who bows down to her husband. She does as she is told, regardless if she feels uncomfortable. When Earl suggests that she go on a diet, he proclaims that “I’ve never felt it was a problem before” (Carver 19). She felt she looked ok the way she was, but kept quiet and made her husband happy and went on the diet. This obsession is noticeable by the continuous marking down of Doreen’s weight. Every morning he checks his wife weight and watches what she eats.

One morning she gets caught eating eggs and bacon, he was very upset at her and calls her a slob. Towards the end of the story, Earl asks another man what he thinks of Doreen and her new body. The man barely looks at Doreen, but focuses his attention on the other waitress. He does not find Doreen attractive, but Earl needs immediate approval from the man to say that she looks good. The man never comments on Doreen and her appearance. The ending of the story is also interesting. The reader realises, through the reaction of the man at the counter, that Earl is the only one concerned about Doreen’s appearance.

There is also a sense that Earl needs the man at the counter to praise Doreen’s appearance, which in turn would again highlight Earl’s insecurity and his reliance on others to validate him. It may also be significant that Doreen, when asked by a colleague ‘who is this joker, anyway? ’ replies by telling her colleague that ‘He’s a salesman. He’s my husband. ’ It is through this statement that the reader senses Carver is introducing irony into the story. There is every possibility that Earl has viewed Doreen as a product to sell, rather than as a human being.

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