Hidden Under the Mask

In the story “A Secret Woman” by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, it is clear that there is a disconnect in the relationship between the husband and wife. When first reading the story, I was lead to believe that they had a solid relationship. This idea was created by the playful tone of the first few paragraphs in the story when the two are discussing the ball.

Soon after, a shift in tone occurs and we find out that the husband is under the impression that his wife is having an affair, “She’s here for someone, with someone. In less than an hour I’ll know everything.” (144). When the husband observes his wife further, he learns that she is going around and kissing multiple men.

While this gives a plot twist to the story, the thing that shocked me most was the way the husband described his wife at the end. He described her as having “a monstrous pleasure being alone, free, honest in her crude, naive state, of being the unknown woman.” (146). This brings up a lot of questions. Is he acting out of jealousy? Why would she want to be kissing other men in the first place?

He also hesitated and did not stop her when she was kissing the other man. It makes the reader wonder why he would not want to intrude, and if he was simply mad at her or was okay with letting her have her night of “freedom”. Through all of this, it is seen that the husband and wife have something wrong in their relationship, and it pulls you in and leaves you wondering what their background is as a couple.

One thought on “Hidden Under the Mask

  1. Yasmin R

    This story definitely leaves the reader feeling unsettled. As you mentioned, there are so many questions that the reader is left with. But I think that is part of what makes this story so powerful. The reader has to interpret the story and ending in their own way and draw their own conclusions.


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