.. n this way, the hand symbolizes all dominating relationships. By the conclusion of the story, the wife realizes the power he has over her. In realizing this, she has the chance to free herself of this role of submission. However, she chooses to succumb.
The final line, Then she concealed her fear, bravely subdued herself, and, beginning her life of duplicity, of resignation, and of a lowly, delicate diplomacy, she leaned over and humbly kissed the monstrous hand (Colette, 198), shows that she decides not to change her situation, but rather accept her role of submission. Why does she choose this life? For the young wife, as for many women who accept the same path, there is security in the non-dominant role. All the decisions are made for them. Also, it might be that she knows no other love. This is her first relationship and she is still an adolescent.
She does not know if these roles are normal and excepted, but she also doesnt know if they are not. This life is still exciting and new to her, and for the most part she enjoys it. He is not abusive all the time; in fact he is often charming. The next morning he shows his charming side when he asks Do you want this slice, darling? Ill butter it for you (Colette, 197). The wife, as do many women, almost trick themselves into thinking that he is not bad because he can good sometimes.
And the times he is good, he is really kind. The wife decides she can accept her fate in the role of resignation because she begins to think it isnt that bad all the time. Also, she was used to submitting under her parents authority. This is the first time she is not under the watchful eye of her parents. That wasnt that long prior to this story.
Therefore, the submissive role is familiar and less frightening than change. People are afraid of change, and for many women diminishing these roles would require change. James Joyces story Eveline further illustrates on this fear for change. In this story, the woman is not dominated by a husband, but rather her father. Her mother passed away, and Eveline was left to assume the role of taking care of her siblings and the household.
Her father, even though is not described in detail, is hinted as being abusive and tyrannical. He was usually bad of a Saturday night (Joyce, 428), meaning he drank heavily. He also controlled Evelines spending, and forced her to do the shopping and cleaning. Eveline obeyed without a word for fear that he would strike her. She says, Even now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her fathers violence (Joyce, 428).
Eveline wanted to move onto a better life. She did not want to be treated as her mother had; she did not want to be forced to succumb her entire life as had her mother and many other women. When a sailor asked for her hand in marriage, Eveline jumped at the chance. She saw this as her way out, as a way to change her situation. She thinks, in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would be not like that. She would not be treated as her mother had been.
(Joyce, 428). This was her chance to change her situation. However, when the time came for her to leave, she backed out. She decided to remain with her life at home with her father rather than move on and marry this sailor. She had the chance of freedom and did not take advantage of it.
Why did Eveline decide to stay with her role of submission? She was afraid of change. In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her. (Joyce, 428). Her home and the people around her were familiar. With change she didnt know what to expect.
At least at home, even if it was not the best situation, she knew her place and her role. Also, submission was the only love she had known. Her father and his tyrannical ways were the only life she had ever experienced. While Eveline is thinking and deciding whether or not to leave with the sailor, she reflects back on her life and says, It was hard work-a hard life-but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life. Even though she was not delighted by her current role, she found comfort in its familiarity and found security in knowing what her role was. Eveline even convinced herself that her father wasnt that bad. She says, Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss her.
Sometimes he could be very nice. (Joyce, 429). Like many women in the same situation, and like the young wife in The Hand, Eveline saw the male that is oppressing her as not evil. She almost convinces herself that he is good, that he doesnt mean to be dominant and abusive. His behavior is tolerable because it is familiar and can be kind. She, as many women, feels that succumbing and caring for the household and the male is her duty.
She is scared by change. This fear was so strong that she would rather resign to the male dominance. These stories depict many of the reasons behind the formation and the continuation of these roles of dominance and submission. It began a long time ago with the male being physically dominant, and then assumed supremacy in relationships. The women were forced physically or verbally or emotionally to obey and comply. Now, with advances in womens rights and the expansion of womens role in the workplace and society, they are given a chance to abolish or escape these roles.
Yet, many of the women do not take this chance. Maybe they feel it is their duty, or are just scared of the change as Eveline did. Or perhaps the women do not recognize the male supremacy, as the young wife in The Hand initially did not. For whatever reason, it is strong enough so that the women continue to accept these roles as they have for hundreds of years. These will not change until either the women decide to change and not succumb to men, and society cease to breed these roles into the minds of the children. Bibliography The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature.
Michael Meyer. Bedford / St. Martins, Boston, 2000. Joyce, James. Eveline. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature.
Michael Meyer. Bedford / St. Martins, Boston, 2000. Sidonie-Gabrielle, Colette. The Hand.
The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyer. Bedford / St. Martins, Boston, 2000.