The main themes of the short story “Say Yes” by Tobias Wolff are interracial love and marriage – and racism – but also that of domestic power conflict, because the spouses fight to impose their opinion on the other. The author’s message seems to be that sometimes a theoretical debate can push couples apart when behind their debate are totally opposite views and a strong power for control over the relationship.
Interracial love and marriage
The story explores this theme at a theoretical conversational level. There is no interracial couple in the narrative, but a white couple discussing this idea. While the husband argues that, practically, neither love nor marriage could lead to a happy ending for interracial couples, the wife believes true love could make such a couple work.
Racism is a sub-theme related to interracial love and marriage. In the short story, it is mostly explored through the character of the husband. Although he argues that he gets along “just fine” (p. 52, l. 19)...
Domestic power conflict
Another important theme of the short story, which is not as obvious at first, is that of domestic power conflict. Because the topic of the debate between the two spouses is very sensitive, we may tend to dismiss this theme and focus on the racial aspects.
Essay about An Analytical View of Say Yes by Tobias Wolff
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An Analytical View of Say Yes by Tobias Wolff "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…show more content…
Wolff writes the short story from the first person perspective of the Husband who, "…went to school with blacks … worked with blacks and lived on the same street with blacks and … always gotten along just fine.", however; Wolff did not intend for the reader to perceive that the Husband is racist. Although his wife feels two cultures with two distinct backgrounds could "know" one another; her Husband's insight of multi-cultured relationships remained unchanged. Although in love, two people of differing races or cultures could never conceptually "know" each other.
The Husband loves his wife and the narrator writes through the tenderness of the Husband's eye. When Ann slices her finger re-washing the silverware, all animosity is lost as he scrambles up stairs to get her a Band-Aid as a peace offering to cease the argument. He finishes the cleaning in the kitchen and goes as far as to mop the floor while he waits for the frustration and anger to subside in his Wife.
The author carefully crafts the story so that every detail contributes to a certain unique or single effect, whether it is as complex as irony or as simple as depiction of feelings. The Husband describes his absolute love for Ann as he reminisces about the years he spent with her and how deeply he "knows"