Murray Bail’s, “The Drover’s Wife”
Society has evolved immensely since the beginning of its creation long ago. Unfortunately, the idea of conformity and social norms play an enormous role in our perception of how people “ought” to act and how individuals should look depending on their social setting. In Murray Bail’s short story “The Drover’s Wife” the plot conveys the portrayal of a lonely man and his confusion with events preceding his divorce. This man is the protagonist, Gordon, who is portrayed as a lonely, confused and desperate man who finds a painting of his ex-wife. He examines this painting throughout the story which in turn, brings back memories of past events during his married life. The short story suggests that there is a high value towards the idea of conformity where those who do not conform are looked down upon. Bail uses four major literary elements which are characterization, point of view, dramatic irony and setting to develop her main idea.
First and foremost, the author uses characterization of the protagonist Gordon to illustrate her theme. In the first few paragraphs of the story, Gordon recalls an argument that him and his wife had undergone not very long before she decided to leave him. This argument “concerned her weight” and the fact that she needed to lose some of it (501). Gordon’s desire for Hazel to lose weight identifies how he wishes Hazel to look more like a dentist’s wife and that her image should be equal to what he perceives as society’s expectations. Furthermore, when the protagonist catches Hazel lugging the ice chest in the house, he felt that it somehow made her “less attractive in [his] eyes” (503). The idea that Gordon felt less attracted to his wife because she was doing physical labor shows how those who do not conform are looked down upon. Lastly, the incident where Hazel is playing in the snow and Gordon therefore goes to tell her not to “be stupid” and to “get up”...