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Ursula K Le Guin's "The Wife's Story

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Claire Fales

on 26 July 2013

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Transcript of Ursula K Le Guin's "The Wife's Story

The Wife's Story
by Ursula Le Guin

Biographical Information
Ursula K. Le Guin was born in 1929 to Theodora Kroeber and Alfred Louis Kroeber. Her mother was a write and her father was a pioneering anthropologist. The background that her family gave her helped her to "acquire a doulbe orientation, humanistic and scientific, that shows up in all her writing" (Charters 823). She got her masters degree from Columbia University in medieval romance literature. In 1953 she married Charles Le Guin and they had three children. She credits her influence on her work to Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and Virginia Woolf among others. Her stories bring a since of reciprocal relationship to them, "the sort of golden rule that whatever you touch, touches you" (Charters 823). Her storing begin science-fiction and fantasy fiction a lot of great stories.

Comparative Literary Interpretations from Different Schools of Criticism
Gender Criticism
Psychological Criticism
Formalist Criticism
Character Analysis: The Wife
In Le Guin's "The Wife's Story" the wife is a wolf. We don't figure that out until almost the end of the story though. The wife is driven by her children and her husband. She wants them all to be save and protected. The wife is a round character because at the beginning of the story she is in love with her husband and doesn't see that there is something different about him. In the end of the story she realizes that she has to protect her children from what her husband really is, a werewolf. I think the reader would have sympathy for the wife because her husband lied to her. He did not tell her that he was a werewolf and she finds out little by little throughout the story. The wife is an honorable character because she did want she had to do to protect her child and in the end she still loved her husband even after she found out what he was. I was disappointed with the wife when her pack killed her husband because she was in shock of founding out he was a werewolf and did not try to find out why he lied. I was intrigued to find out that the wife was a wolf in the end, I did not see that ending coming. Le Guin does not tell us the age, ethnicity, belief system, or intelligence factor of the character. The wife is a female wolf, so I would have to say that she is probably as smart as anyone. I found the husband to be interesting, but not more interesting then the wife. I wanted to know why he lied about being a werewolf and not just a wolf. Also why he tired to kill his family at the end of the story.
Significance of Le Guin and "The Wife's Story"
The significance of "The Wife's Story" is that it gives the reader a shocking ending, something the reader does not see coming at all. When you find out that the wife is a wolf it is a simple twist to the story that sheds a totally different light on the whole story. The short story is important because it include an anthropomorphic character in the wolves that the reader doesn't realize. Le Guin uses a suspenseful narration, so that the reader thinks something else is wrong with the husband, like he beats his children, till the end of the story. The story always is about wolves and werewolves also, which is very prevalent in are society today.
Works Cited
Final Exam Question
In Le Guin's "The Wife's Story" why is it that the wife does not want to believe her husband is a werewolf when ever her children can see that something is different with him? Use at least one quote and 200 words.
Charters, Ann, ed. The Story and its Writer. Boston: Bedford St.
Martin's, 2011. Print
Gender Criticism
"The Wife's Story" is in the collection of stories called The Compass Rose. Before Le Guin wrote this collection of short stories many people thought that she was "losing her faith in fantasy as an adequate substitute for reality and was responding with parody" (Le Guin). The collection explored feminism and "broadened her edefinistion of truth and power" (Le Guin). The Compass Rose collection are like her earlier work were they are distant from normal people and the stories themselves have a since of purity in them. In "The Wife's Story" the wife has to rise above what she now knows her husband to be and save her children from him.
"Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-)". Short Story Criticism. Ed. Joseph Palmisano. Vol.
69. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 131-181. Johnson County Community College. Gale.
Literature Criticism Online. 15 July 2013 <http://
Formalist Criticism
Psychological Criticism
In "The Wife's Story" Le Guin makes the whole story seem like it is about humans until the end when the reader finds out the story is about wolves and a werewolf. Le Guin sets up her story so the reader won't find out that the wife and her family are wolves until the end when the pack goes to kill her husband, the werewolf. This gives the story a suspenseful feeling to it that keeps the reader interested in the story the whole time. It gives the story an element of surprise at the end of the story that the reader won't see coming.
Le Guin argues that animals are the human subconious. In "The Wife's Story" it is about wolves and a werewolf that seem like they are human until the very ending. "Le Guin wants us to know undeniably,, that we are kin with the animals" (Aftandilian). Le Guin writes the story in an animals point of view and there is a lack of communication between the animal and humans. This makes the reader just assume that the story is being told by a human and not an animal. Le Guin believe that we came from animals and this shows in the stories she has written. In the story Le Guin makes the human body sound grotesque, she described it as a worm. This shows how Le Guin thinks animals see humans in the world. When the husband was a human the wife and him were to far about to be together that he wanted to kill his family and his wife.
Aftandilian, Dave. What Are the Animals to Us?. Knoxville: The University
of Tennessee Press, 2007. Print.
Cadden, Mike. Ursula K. Le Guin Beyond Genre. Great Britain:
Routledge, 2005. Print.
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