Raymond Carver's 'They Re Not Your Husband'

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“They’re not your husband” is a short story written by Raymond Carver and published in 1973. Raymond Carver is a minimalist writer, which provides his short stories with an economy with words, adverbs and a focus on surface description. This allows the context to dictate meaning. Therefore, the reader has an active role in the creation of the short story; to choose side based on inclined innuendo and hints. The story reveals an unemployed salesman, Earl Ober, who feels obligated to get his wife, Doreen Ober, to lose weight, due to two men's negative statements about his wife’s body; “look at the ass on that, will you? I don’t believe it.” (…) The other man laughed “I’ve seen better”. The two men in business suits makes this uncalled-for…show more content…
She loses a lot of weight within a short period of time, which entail sickness and change of her looks. The short story takes place in modern time since the story obtains a television and a car. They short story is published in 1973 and therefore it takes place between the 1950s and 1960s, since the social and cultural environment also tells us something about the period of time. Earl uses the pound measurement, which could indicate that the story unfolds in the United States; “Three quarters of a pound”. Nonetheless, Earl uses dollars, which is also an indication that the story is situated in the US. The story unfolds at two locations. In the first location there is a cafeteria, where Earl’s wife works as a waitress. And, the second location is at the couple’s home. The couple has young children, which reveals the age of the couple, which might be around the mid-30s; “He checked on the children and then went to the other bedroom”. The reader does not get to know how many children the couple has, but defiantly more than one since the word “children” is used. The speaker of the short story is the author since it is written in third person, which provides great flexibility to the author. Therefore, the…show more content…
Thereafter, Earl monitors his wife’s food-intake. For an example at the part where he catches her eating scrambled eggs and bacon. Earl become furious. It seems like he is turned into a body-fascist and he does not care about Doreen at this point because of his usage of the word “Slob”. This word does not only pictures her obesity, but also that she has a lack of self-discipline. Later on her colleagues describe her appearance as not recognizable; “people are saying things at work, (…) That I don’t look like myself”. At this point the story the title “They’re not your husband” is important since he as her husband is her conclusive reference point, which means that only he is to judge her appearance. The foundation of Earl’s argument towards this statement is that Doreen lives with him and therefore she is an echo of him. Thus, she might be the extension of earl’s male ego. Nonetheless, Doreen gets objectified once again in the end of the story, where Earl is at the diner in order to re-test the public opinion about his wife’s appearance. Earl do not get the answers he seeks; the people who have been asked do not recognize Doreen’s new appearance.

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