An Unusual Perspective in Kay Boyles' Short Story, The Astronomer's Wife

597 WordsFeb 21, 20182 Pages
In Kay Boyle's short story, "The Astronomer's Wife", the usual perspective of social class is complicated. In mid-twentieth century, the period in which "The Astronomer's Wife" was written, social status was important to most people and it decided who they would associate themselves with. Most high-class individuals, according to written works, thought of themselves as better and wiser than the lower-class individuals. "The Astronomer's Wife" complicates this idea of the importance of social status by suggesting how high or low a man's social status is does not and should not determine his merit. Astronomy is a prestigious and well-payed field If work. This fact indicates the high-class life the Astronomer and his wife live. Boyle write, "The professor is still sleeping, step this way" (63). The astronomer's wife informs the plumber her husband will be in bed. This suggests that the astronomer is apathetic. He does not care to assist his wife in helping the plumber and feels his rest is more important. The plumber and Mrs. Ames go down to check for problems within the drains. The plumber is confused as to why Mr. Ames would not join him. The author writes, "Mr. Ames would never go down there alive. He likes going up" (64). Many times the Astronomer is connected with a higher state of being. For example, Boyle writes, "And she, in her turn, pointed, but impudently, towards the heavens. 'On the roof. Or on the mountains. He's been up on the tops of them many times'" (64).

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