Analysis of ‘The Wife’s Story’ by Ursula Le Guin
Ursula Le Guin tells us in The Wife’s Story, about a woman who meets a man who would later become her husband and father to her children. This story has a great twist on what the werewolf and human perspective. Told from the wife’s view, it shows her love for her husband and children. As time goes on she notices something different about her husband. Having to choose between the two of her loves, she will have to make a decision of whether to save her husband or her children.
Ursula Le Guin will show us how our minds can be trick into believing what we perceive. Many times our views will be predetermined before we gather all the facts. Often times siding to what we hold to be right or wrong, good or evil. After reading this story and gathering all the facts, it is amazing on how fast we switch our thoughts on which side we emphasize with. Not only will the reader’s allegiances that are put to the test but also the wife’s.
Through the telling of this story she will manipulate our imaginations. She will lead us to the complete opposite of what we are thinking. It will not be until the ending that we find out we have been tricked. Being told from the wife’s view, we sympathize with the wife. She will lead us into believing that her husband is cursed and is changing, that this once good and loving man is turning evil and is going to be a danger to her and her children
After watching the way the he interacts with his mother and playing with the children, she finds him to be a kind and gentle man. Anyone that nice must be worth knowing (Le Guin, 2012, p 29). He always seemed to be happy, never in a foul mood. This is what would eventually lead her to fall in love with him. The wife describes him as a “good husband and a good father” (Le Guin, 2012, p 29). Being a young and hard worker he was look up to by the community. This is a recipe for the perfect man for her. During the first year of their marriage, life was wonderful for them.
Soon we will start to see changes from him. As their life goes on, she starts to describe strange behavior from him. He would start waking up during the night. Unable to sleep, he would tell her he was going off to hunt. After these trips he seemed to be different, tired and worn. This good natured man would be terse and short, not wanting to talk about where or what he was doing. His wife would also know that there was a scent to him that could not be washed away, “It would be in his hair and in our bed for days” (Le Guin, 2012, p 30).This starts to give us the idea that the wife is starting to be concerned about what is happing to her husband.
Le Guin gives us clues as to what this behavior stems from. Giving us key words she leads us to believe that this man is turning into a beast. The curse comes from “his father’s blood” and “it only happens in the dark of the moon” (Le Guin, 2012, pp. 29, 30). She also tells us the he is not from around these parts, a stranger here with no ties to the community. There is very little known about his true background. Le Guin was careful to not give to many details about how the story would turn. She lets the reader’s imagination take them where they lead themselves too. This would give us a realization as we find out how our own thoughts and preconceptions can betray us.
The wife’s suspicions start to grow, along with our own. When the youngest of the children seemingly “just overnight” (Le Guin, 2012, p 30), starts to fear her father, we have a sense that that the wife is not the only one who notices these changes. The father tries to play the fear of the child off as a bad dream. The wife still does not want to believe what she feels, admonishes the baby for her bad behavior. We discern now, that he knows there is something terribly wrong with him. He is either in denial or does not want his family and community to find out the truth. As she states that “he kept away that whole day…probably sensing the beginning the dark of the moon” (Le Guin, 2010, p 30) Not only do we believe that the wife is in danger but, now also the whole family. As most of us probably have seen a werewolf movie or more, recognize what dangers may lay ahead. Now that Le Guin has our interest peaked, she will push our own thoughts even farther against us.
Now that Le Guin has our full attention. She will reveal the truth of the story. The wife would wake up during the night to find that he husband is not in bed. He has once again wakened up and left. Hearing a noise she “could no longer bare it” (Le Guin, 2012, p 30), she goes to investigate what is going on. The wife sees her husband sitting outside. Her fears hold her in place as she starts to witness his transformation. His feet are getting longer with toes, as he starts to turn “fleshy whiteâ€¦losing his hair to become smooth skinned, his ears disappear and his eyes turn blue and white rimmedâ€¦then standing on two legs” (Le Guin, 2012, p 30). He has change into a human man. All along we have been thinking he was human and was cursed to be a werewolf. We find that the story was being told from the werewolves’ point of view. The wife finally sees for herself that he has been cursed, “My dear love, turned into the hateful one” (Le Guin, 2012, p 30).
We know that the wife and werewolf community have dealt with human men before.” The man thing looked around. It had no gun, like the ones from the man places do. I knew the man would kill our children if it could” (Le Guin, 2012, pp. 30, 31). We get that the wolves have been hunted down before and killed by her reaction. She fears for her children’s lives even though the man in unarmed. She starts howling, alerting others of her kind. They would chase down the man and kill him.