"Say Yes" is an emotional sorry of love and its pitfalls. The husband loves his wife dearly but fails to really know that all she wants to hear is affirmation of her proposal of love despite the racial undertone involve. The Husband does not come to the realization of this concept until the end of the story when he accepts the proposal and puts forth the effort to "make it up" to Ann
The story begins around dusk, one evening in a non descript kitchen on El Camino Street in some unnamed American ghetto. The mood of the evening soon changes for the worse. While a husband and a wife wash dishes they quibble about inter-racial marriage, specifically Caucasian and African. Ann, the wife, proposes a question, "…I'm black, but still me, and we fall in love. Will you marry me?" Tobias Wolff parallels the narrative tone with the considerate loving attitude of the Husband, which makes the delicate subject matter of inter-racial marriage easier to confront in the short story "Say Yes".
There are only two Characters mentioned in the story. The Husband has extensive knowledge of African-American culture, although not being of that particular race himself. He is considerate and devoted to his wife Ann. This is displayed while helping his wife with the dishes every night and assisting with the remainder of the housework. A friend of his wife's congratulated her on having such a considerate husband; it was true he "tried" to show consideration towards his wife through his works.
The second individual is Ann. Wolff does not divulge Ann's everyday character, but displays Ann's "indifference" to her Husband's assessment of the subject ...
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... were African. Although the Husband loves his wife, he realizes that he does not "know" his wife as," the sound of someone moving through the house, a stranger." Wolff creates a situation between the two where the husband is looking to settle the argument, whereas the wife just wants to hear yes to the proposal. Ann doesn't think that her husband will say yes and when he does she realized that they still don't know each other. It takes the Husband until the end of the story to figure this out, when his wife, the stranger, now comes to bed. . The story does end with him going to bed with this new strange wife, but also leads to a conclusion of rediscovery and renewal for the marriage.
Wolff, Tobias, "Say Yes"
Perrine's Literature: Structure sound and sense, ed. Thomas R. Arp
7th edition Harcourt Brace: New York: 1998.
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