AJourney is a story about a woman traveling with her terminally illhusband from Colorado to New York by train. The story revolves aroundher recollections on her failing marriage and eventual death of herhusband on the train. She harbors feelings of anguish when she findsher husband dead, and has to hide his death for fear of being thrownout of the train. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the shortstory by Edith Wharton.
Thedoctors had advised him to get mild air for six weeks includingduring winter. She did not like the fact that she had to move toColorado, a new place where she was unknown. She disapproved of theidea to shift "She had hated it there from the first."(Wharton).She states that no one could envy her new dresses or the fact thattogether with her husband, they made a good couple.
Theyfeel sad for her that her husband is ill and look at her with pity.She knew that as they passed by, they curiously glanced at her. Thefat man approached her and expressed how it was depressing to knowthat her husband’s condition had worsened. Hefelt obliged to think about death and the eventual freedom of notbeing sick or in anguish. The motherly woman was more concerned andcaring, questioning whether the husband had taken his medication. Sheoffered on several occasions to check him, but the wide to the sickhusband refused. It is sad that even the freckled child that hadwanted to play with him earlier was the one explaining to the newpassengers that the man was sick. He came with a glass of milkstating that the sick man should take it on time. At the end of thestory, he came to assist the woman and her husband to disembark fromthe train (Wharton).
Herfeelings towards her husband show that she had lost all hope, “pityswept away her instinctive resentment of his condition." He isthe man she had once loved and should have had warm tender feelingsof love, but merely felt pity for him. The woman felt that she hadlost as the condition of her husband kept worsening. She reminiscesof the man she married by noting how energetic he had been (Wharton).She felt powerless without him as the man of the house, a positionshe knew she could not take. The story was written at a time whenwomen were regarded as inferior and were subjected to wait upon men.It is thus ironical that she does not grasp this chance to show herstrength by taking control of the situation.She did not welcome the fact that she had lost and kept hoping forbetter things. She knew that when her husband was discharged from thehospital and allowed to travel back home, he would die, but she gaveherself hope by thinkingof what she would do the following year. Even when her husbandeventually died, she did not immediately accept that she had lost andthought of the happy moments of reuniting with her people when thetrain arrived in New York. She was scared of people discovering thather husband had died on the train. When the train made it to NewYork, she exclaimed with excitement "The worst terror waspast…"(Wharton). It shows that the woman was optimistic thatthe situation would get better now that the husband was gone.
Thewoman is journeying away from the pain and misery of the disease ofher husband and traveling towards the death of her husband.
Thewoman is not a sympathetic character as her actions illicit feelingsof anger to the reader. She does not show affection to her dyinghusband even when she says that she loves him. She does not hug orkiss him actions that are presented by loving couples, instead shechooses to avoid touching him (Wharton). It shows that she wasinconsiderate and did not accept his condition warranted love andaffection.
Onthe day her husband was discharged from the hospital, she feltoverjoyed that they were going home at last, even when she knew thatgoing home meant that he would eventually die as depicted in thiscontext, “She knew, of course, what the decision meant they bothknew. It meant that he was to die” (Wharton). Her joyful mood is anirony, and she should have been sad that her husband was going todie. When her husband eventually dies, she chooses to conceal hisdeath for fear of being thrown out of the train. Covering his deathshows her inhumane nature, she hid it for a whole day. Her actionsmight have presented the notion that she had killed him and felt noremorse. An ordinary person would even shed a tear for him, however,she was merely shaken and even plotted on how she was to react whenhis death was discovered.
Thejourney is an interesting story that highlights marriage misery,indecision, and suffering. It is fit for married couples who areundergoing bad times and an eye opener for those with terminally illpatients staring at death.
Wharton,E. “A Journey”. 31 Aug. 2015,https://americanliterature.com/author/edith-wharton/short-story/a-journey.Accessed 17 Mar. 2017.