Wolff conveys his story primarily through dialogue. Character, motivation, psychological perspective, and insight, as well as meaning, are revealed mainly through utterances of the characters. They talk in the terse, clipped sentences and fragments of sentences of those who have been married for a long time and have little need for words to communicate with each other. At the same time, because they take opposing viewpoints, some verbal conversation is necessary simply to further the conflict and increase the tension.
Like most couples who have been married a long time, each knows much of what the other will say. Toward that end the author, telling the story from an omniscient point of view, indicates that both characters know the effects of their own statements before they make them. Therefore, they willingly enter the argument—and they willfully keep it going to move it to their final separation at the end of the story, which is also the evident end of their relationship.
The setting of the story is the ordinary kitchen of a typical modern home. It has no distinctive characteristics because the author is writing about all such kitchens in all such houses, and about the inevitable breakdown of such relationships. The spotlessness of the linoleum and other fixtures recalls the sterility of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” (1933).
Wolff uses two obvious symbols. In cutting herself, Anne is offering sacrificial blood to the relationship. It falls on the floor (that is, the underpinning) of their home and relation. The husband succeeds in cleaning up the blood, but not in cleaning up the mess. When the husband takes out the trash and sees two dogs fight over it, the animals are reenacting what has just occurred in the kitchen. Human nature is animalistic. The selfishness of the dogs in refusing to share the garbage reflects the determination of the human couple to force each other to “say yes”—to agree to be submissive. The consequence of such conduct is invariably separation. The couple not only learn that they are strangers to each other, but that this has always been the case between men and women.
Tobias Wolff’s Story Say Yes Essay
Tobias Wolff’s story “say yes” is a short story about an argument of whether white people should marry black people between a man and his wife, and finally the man changed his idea and “say yes” to his wife. At first I just think this story is just narrating a story about different ideas between husband and wife and how the husband makes the concession finally. After read the story for a couple of times, I found this story has something interesting underlying and which is also my thesis statement: it is a love story about a man who loves his wife so much.
Wolff prefers writing short story stories to novels and he said “ when I write a short story, I feel like I’m somehow cooperating with the story”(807). I think it is because when writing a short story, narrator can find the same experience in that short story easily, just like to tell a story about himself. The story “say yes” may come from some of wolff’s life experience, that is why he can put a heavy emotional color in the story and make the story like an real story. Sometimes there is no true or false in an argument between husband and wife, the whole story seems like a common and usual family life, but there exists some question which interesting and worth to be dig in: why the majority of story goes with dish washing? And what is the strange in the end of the story, why the husband changed his mind finally. When I dig deeper to the story, I find the answers of these questions. And all of the answers suggest what the narrator what to show to the reader: a good husband who has the different ideology with his wife on the question “will you marry me if I am black” finally takes his wife’s perspective to see that question and changed his mind.
From the story we can see obviously that the man is such considerate husband. He washes dishes, aids his wife, mopes floor, even from the conversation of the argument we can see a man who is responsible and always thinking about how to be a better husband and make a better family. In the beginning of the story, “Helping out with the dishes was a way of showing how conciderate he was” He does everything he can to make his wife happier. But only one thing he can’t do. When it comes to the question that: “I am black but still me, and we fall in love, will you marry me.” The considerate husband can’t say yes this time easily. He can do a lot of thing He had a long and tough Journey before he found the finally answer “yes”.
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