McRae love affairs, made in France, with a

                                                                                 McRae 1

Brit McRae    

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Sean Johnston

ENG 151-001

January 31, 2018

Complaints of a Modern Housewife in
“Snow White”

“My suffering is authentic enough but it has a kind of low
grade concrete-block quality. The seven of them only add up to the equivalent
of about two real men, as we know them from the films and from our
childhood, when there were giants on earth. It is possible of course that there
are no more real men here, on this ball of half-truths, the earth. That
would be a disappointment. One would have to content oneself with the subtle
falsity of colour films of unhappy love affairs, made in France, with a Mozart
score. That would be difficult. Miseries and complaints of Snow White: I am tired of being just a horsewife.”
(Barthelme 47,48,49)


In “Snow White,” by Donald Barthelme, a
woman named Snow White enters the story as a housewife for the dwarves. Well
rounded, educated and recognized for her tall dark features and white as snow
skin, she doesn’t choose to hide her resentment and ever-growing boredom. This
passage above describes a dramatic confession, from a despondent, hopeless
young woman. The choice wording described, using “horsewife,” is a post
modernism play on literary terms with a hint of irony.

Describing her
disappointment with the seven dwarves whom she lives with
and cares for, is the centre of Snow White’s introspective
view, which is in steady decline. Her description of ‘un-happy love affairs,’
coincides with a yearning fantasy, of a better housewife life. Encompassed with
‘half-truths’ and ‘unhappy love affairs,’ our narrator unleashes her
unhappiness within her present relationships. With a reminiscent tone, she
subjects the reader to understand her ‘suffering,’ with an emphasis on the
seven men. She equates them to be undersized, mentioning

                                                                                                                                 McRae 2

‘giant’s on earth’ from her childhood, degrading their
appearances. Her judgements, elude the reader to question what being a happy housewife
entails? The author makes many cultural references to her formal education, for
becoming a housewife, and how these types of roles contribute to society. As
the story presents, Snow White, the underlying issue was this her choice, or
not? The ‘authentic suffering’ mentioned, leads the reader to asses the
psychological state of our main character, analyzing if she may have always
been this unhappy.  Was Snow White
longing for the ‘promise of a happy life as a housewife,’ yet was absently
displeased when the outcome was as mundane, leading to an envious delusional
fantasy for a different life. Surrounded by these seven men, her tone theorizes
she is growing steadily tiresome of these men, yearning for a love affair with
a contrasting companion.

Within the story “Snow White”, the reader will find that the
author chooses to let the reader feel sympathy for the protagonist, which lets
the reader pause and reflect on her ‘suffering.’ Empathy is sensed, and
important as Snow White is taking on the main role of the underdog in this
story, fighting against a gender-specific assumed role for a woman living in
the 1960’s when this book was written. The objective of a modern housewife, is
relevant to the above passage, yet her chores must be multiplied many times the
amount, another wife, would be familiar with. With six extra men to care for,
clean for and cook for, would be distressing for any housewife.  Aspirations, of a better life, let the reader
welcome the idea, that she pursue another path, which would surely be opposed
during the significance of the timeline.

Representation and emphasis on what is left out of the text
above, is the concept of relationships and status in the household. The
resistance of the ‘housewife’ when quoted as “I am tired of being just a
horsewife!” is generating an idea that she has contradicting thoughts on
the role which was chosen for her to portray, in society.


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