The Drover’s Wife
By Murray Bail
Communication is: “the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior,” (American Heritage Dictionary). Good communication is what allows an effective open relationship and it also engages people to respect one another by taking the time to listen. However, what most people tend to forget about communication is the fact that we communicate not only through our voice, but more importantly our gestures and behavior. In the short story “The Drover’s Wife,” by Murray Bail written in first person narration (flashback), a man lets us into his thoughts as he observes a painting of his wife which has left him for another man some thirty years ago. The author shows through irony and characterization how lack of communication and respect in a marriage can lead to separation and leave some people in denial.
Irony is revealed through the way Gordon, the protagonist, pays great attention to his wife now that she is gone and by the title of the story. The title of the story, which comes from the painting being discussed, is ironic because Gordon continuously talks as though they are still together: “The woman depicted is not “The Drover’s Wife.” She is my wife. We have not seen each other now it must be getting on thirty years,” (Bail, 1). He refuses to accept the fact that she is now the drover’s wife and not his. He uses words like “our” and talks out loud as if she were still there next to him.
Furthermore, Gordon talks and analysis every single detail about his wife, the drover, the painting and the reason to why she left; however when she was actually present all he did was throw her negative comments, put her down, and made the space between them grow larger: “I didn’t mean to speak harshly, but I went up to her, “Come on, don’t be stupid. Get up.” She went very quiet. She didn’t speak for hours,” (Bail, 32). Many times throughout the story as Gordon...