Colette’s story

Throughout Colette’s story, the husband and wife remain anonymous to maintain a universal theme of marriage. The young girl is faced with the obstacle of understanding what it means to be married, and questioning her ability to remain with a man she was once infatuated with and who now repulses her. Marriage is about sacrifice, and the young girl is questioning her commitment to submit to a repulsive hand merely to remain in holy matrimony. Realizing that her Prince Charming is nothing is perfect is the fairy tale she must let go of. Clasping onto dreams of the unrealistic will only bring on dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Her initial joy during her honeymoon has faded, and she is faced with the reality with the beast and not the beauty. By understanding the faults of her husband, she must comprehend the ramifications of marriage, and take in the good with the bad. The next morning as her clueless husband dotes on his youthful wife, she gives herself an ultimatum of rising up as an adult, or cowering as a child and leaving her husband because of the hand. She is no longer able to look at her husband with such adoration; the thought of the hand gives her goosebumps, and she can not even bring herself to eat the toast he offers to butter for her.

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The transformation of her ideological husband revolts her, yet she is weak and is truly overpowered by the restraints society puts on her to stay with her husband. She realizes that her life will become one of duplicity, as she will forever live a life she no longer wants, but must act as if she does. The young wife once defined herself by her new husband and the happiness he brought her. As she no longer wants to be associated with such a hand or husband, she is therefore left without an identity as she no longer wants to be distinguished by.

Ultimately, she performs as a good wife should and kisses the hand, putting her own feelings aside for the expectations of society. She is now obedient, but in this soul-wrenching realization, she has matured. To be capricious is a luxury of youth, which the protagonist has forfeited through marriage. By accepting her decisions and leaving her world of whimsy, the young woman is able to take on her role as an obedient wife in a patriarchal society, and serve her husband while enslaving herself to him.