Thematic parallel of marriage and family in 'A Secret Sorrow' by Karen van der Zee and 'A Sorrowful Woman' Gail Godwin

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In both the excerpts from Karen van der Zee 's novel "A Secret Sorrow" and in Gail Godwin 's short story "A Sorrowful Woman," the plots center on ideas of marriage and family. Conversely, marriage and family are presented in very different lights in the two stories. Karen van der Zee presents marriage with children as perfect and completely fulfilling; it is what Faye, the protagonist of "A Secret Sorrow", wants and what is necessary to her happiness. For Godwin 's unnamed protagonist, marriage and family are almost the antithesis of happiness; her home life seems to suffocate hear and eventually leads her to death. "A Secret Sorrow" directly endorses and encourages marriage, whereas "A Sorrowful Woman" indirectly questions and discourages…show more content…
It would appear that the girl is too much of an infringement on her space, too much of a reminder of what she can no longer be.

The discrepancy between the two authors ' illustrations of marriage is most apparent when both women are viewing their families. Faye, sitting with her husband and watching her children play, feels that "life was good and filled with love" (Zee 37). Godwin 's protagonist, on the other hand, articulates, "The sight of them made her so sad and sick she did not want to see them ever again" (Godwin 38).When Kai, now her husband, embraces Faye, she feels, "There was love in his embrace and love in his words and in her heart there was no room for doubt, no room for sorrow" (Zee 37). When Godwin 's heroine feels the loving touch of her husband 's arm and the kiss of her child, she cannot bear it any longer and cuts off all direct contact with them. The situation of her marriage forces her into a self-imposed imprisonment and indolence. She feels agonizingly poignant because she can no longer be who they want and need her to be. She avoids them not because she does not love them but rather because she loves them so much that it is too painful to see them and too troublesome for them to feel her failure. The axiom to Godwin 's story tells us that "Once upon a time there was a wife and a mother one too many times" (Godwin 38). The addition of "one
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