Astronomer’s Wife Plot Summary Kay Boyle’s “The Astronomer’s Wife” is a brief story about a women’s dissatisfaction with her husband and her life. It Begins with Mrs. Katherine Ames waking up in her villa. She called for her maidservant to bring her some coffee as she begun to think about her husband, the astronomer. The maidservant then interrupted her thinking by telling her that the plumber had arrived. Mrs. Ames repeated herself, “I am Mrs. Ames… I am Mrs. Ames” to call for the plumber. She showed the plumber to a room that has flooded.
The plumber examines the flooded room and remarked that it was the “soil line” was responsible for the plugged drain. While the plumber headed outside to look at the pipes, the astronomer yelled at his wife that “There’s a problem worthy of your mettle! ” as he is still on his bed. Mrs. Ames proceeded outside to the plumber and where he noted that the drains are “big enough for a man to stand upright in them”. Though, Mrs. Ames wasn’t paying any attention because she was still thinking about her husband’s thoughts and the things that he did to make her sad.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Ames then looked at the plumber and noticed that he is looking “up in her face”. She noticed several physical characteristics about the plumber, “hair as light as gold, lean cheeks, rugged bones, firm and clean flesh. ” She began to think about the differences between the plumber and the astronomer, a men who descend and men who go up. Suddenly, everything about the plumber became appealing to her, and she continued to think about the dissatisfaction of her husband. At the end of the story, Mrs. Ames followed the plumber into the drainpipes. Characters
Mrs. Ames is the main character of the story. She is married to an astronomer who is a distant and overly interested in abstract things that had caused her to feel dissatisfaction of him. She is the astronomer’s only link in the story, but she means a little to him. So such a long time she hadn’t entirely immersed in life from her husband, she then was appealed by the plumber, who is the contrast of the astronomer. The astronomer is married to Mrs. Ames. In the story, the narrator mentioned about the astronomer that “he was a man of other things, a dreamer. He spent most of his time examining the heavens and attempting to remain as high above the earth as possible. Even Mrs. Ames stated that he likes being on the roof or mountains for many times. However he never physically appeared in the story and only heard from him once when he yelled to Mrs. Ames. His behavior had made Mrs. Ames to think about him most of the time and dissatisfied of him. Meanwhile, the plumber is the astronomer’s opposite. While the astronomer preferred to be high up, the plumber descended down into pipes below the ground.
In the story, he had been describe physically and also been suggested as “brutal. ” Mrs. Ames was attracted to his physicality as the plumber is the one who paid attention to her, looked her in her eye when he spoke, and treated her politely. At the end of the story, the plumber told Mrs. Ames an experience which in a sense that the plumber wanted to give her back and important element of her life that she had lost. Reader – Response Criticism Based on my own interpretation, the story shows that when a person, Mrs.
Ames, feels the loss of love in a relationship and becomes unhappy, the person will look for the affection elsewhere. Then another character, the plumber, shows up and gives the spouse what she has been missing who is able to give her what has not had. This marriage has turned Mrs. Ames to a robot-like, routinely and every day is the same. This relationship would mostly result in unhappiness and unhealthy. It is because Mr. Ames find more interest in his profession than he does in his wife, clearly is the cause of his wife’s dissatisfaction.
Every scene in the story is well described in words. All the details and descriptions help enrich the story. The major characters involved are Mrs. Ames and the plumber. The husband is mostly described by the wife, but he is only the minor character as he is not physically involved in the story. Meanwhile, the maidservant girl is another character which only involved in few scenes throughout the story. The story didn’t describe that Mr. and Mrs. Ames are in a relationship trouble, but the expressions, actions, and thoughts described is a clear indication of a marriage conflict.
Even neither the plumber nor Mrs. Ames mention anything about them being interested in each other, but mostly described by the narrating that it is more than just a plumbing problem. Mrs. Ames describe her relationship with Mr. Ames is by talking about him. Although Mrs. Ames didn’t show directly of how she feel about her husband in the story, but is the way she speaks of him in front of the plumber. The couples are actually quite young, but the way they are described makes them look like they are in there fifties, where they seem like too old for any changes in their life.
Conclusion The literature contains a lot more than we could expect. The story is actually quite simple, yet there is so much detail within it. Though the theme of a relationship gone bad is so common, but each sentence in the story tell us more to say inside than what is on top. The character’s dialogue is always either focuses on what the character is saying, or focuses on what is meant by what the character is saying. It shows that there is an opposition in each of the character’s words. Thus, it enriches the story into an exciting and provoking story to read.