A young marriage described in The Hand
In The Hand , by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the plot centers around the idea of a young couple that just got married and are lying in bed alone while the husband sleeps and the wife remains awake. The more central character would definitely be the wife while she is also dynamic in the story. Colette is considered one of the significant feminist of the twentieth century. Her story The Hand portrays many of her feminist attributes. I believe that this story tells of a past experience or represents some sort of significance to her marriage life. Colette was married three times which gives her a lot of knowledge and experience in the marriage field. This story tells of a young marriage that was rushed into and perhaps the young wife was uncertain of her commitment.
At the beginning of the story, the wife and husband are described in a bedroom setting with a small light shining from across the room. The wife has only been married for two weeks and as the author describes, she had begun to live the scandalous life of a newlywed or in other words the marriage life was a shock to the wife. The author also describes that her conjugal adventure had been a little more than a kidnapping, which basically tells the reader that the marriage came quick and without warning. The reader is informed that the newlyweds were married a month later of meeting each other, which for
today s society is rushing into marriage.
Furthermore, her attitude becomes dynamic, because of a certain flaw that she finds unattractive. As the couple lies in bed, Colette describes how the husband is so good looking and athletic. As she lies there, she thinks of how perfect he is, including his long eyelashes , his mouth, and his skin the color of pink brick. As she continues to savor the moment of still being young and a newlywed, she begins to study his hand which is wrapped tightly around her.
As she looks at the hand she begins to realize that it is different than she had thought it would be. She referred to his arm as an animal which makes her pay close attention to the hand in which it is attached. She also thought to herself, It s so big! It really is bigger than my whole head. These comments begin to make her realize that her husband is not as perfect as she had thought him to be. The wife s response to the husband s hand really gives the reader a vivid picture of how beastly the hand seems.
As the wife lies there she continues to insult her husbands hand and continues to give the reader the facts of her husband s flaw. She describes the hand to become ugly as the light from the moon begins to set on the hand. The hand starts to becomes powerful looking and scary. All the veins show due to the moonlight and she begins to notice the ugly red hairs that rest upon the knuckles and the top of his hand. She also notices the pink varnish on his finger nails. She responds to I ll tell him not to varnish his nails and use pink polish on a hand that is so…
She is stopped before she can make anymore rude comments about his hand as he
jumps in his sleep as if he is listening to every word she is saying. She continues on as she compares his hand to an ape, The thumb stiffened out, horribly long and spatulate , and pressed tightly against the index finger, so the hand suddenly took on a vile, apelike appearance. Powerful feelings begin to evoke the wife and she grows hateful toward his hand s minor and physical retarded complexion. Also startled by the hand s actions and appearances, she responds by a sudden Oh! a few times in the short story. These startled reactions leave the reader with suspense as she expresses her fear towards the hand.
Because of her increase of fear, the author s feminist writing quickly turns the man s hand into the antagonist. While continuing to describe the hand as a pliant beast, the author denotes the hand as a symbol for marriage s disadvantages. All marriages come with dissatisfactions which the author portrays in this story, The Hand. The wife surprisingly thinks, And I ve kissed that hand! How horrible! Haven t I ever looked at it? That quickly lets the reader know that because of such a sudden marriage that the wife has not been with her mate long enough to pay attention to the little things that she may not like about him. Once again, Colette portrays the thought of rushing into marriage and places an image for the reader.
Despite the fact that the wife is uncertain about the decision of marrying someone she hasn t known well, Colette again proves the wife to be a dynamic character. Colette describes the hand and arm as a protective belt and bulwark , or wall, against all fear. The irony shows in this story when the wife is frightened by his hand s appearance, but at
In the end, or the next morning, the loving husband comes to bed with breakfast and she once again notices the beastly hand. It is again shown that she is frightened by describing her skin crawling, while she looks at the hand. Although scared and feeling discomforted, the wife hides her fear and begins her youthful marriage by accepting the appearance of the hand. She leaned over and humbly kissed the monstrous hand. This also proves that the author is using irony. Earlier in the story the wife complains about kissing the animal like hand, but swallows her fear and kisses the protective hand after the husband brings her breakfast in the morning.
In conclusion, the author s point of view is that the wife rushed into marriage before she knew the consequences that come with marriage. Throughout the story the wife is uncertain about her decision with her commitment to marriage. Colette definitely shows her feminist attributes as she bases the entire story around the wife s thoughts. The conflict arises when the wife notices the beastly appearance about her husband that she had yet to notice, but in the end it is resolved when the wife puts aside her fear and kisses the hand. She realizes that her commitment came way too soon, but she was going to live with the resignation she had made in the end.