The Secret Woman: Why the Character’s Relationship Was Doomed From the Beginning

In Collete’s “The Secret Woman” a woman cheats on her husband who may also have cheated on her. I would argue that even before the cheating, their relationship was bound to fail because they don’t really know one another.

In the beginning of the story the husband sees his wife as gentle and femenine describing her as a “delicate sugared almond” (42) while at the party he describes her in much darker ways such as “satanic” (46). At the party it is said that the wife is very comfortable and doing her own thing “as calm as if she had been alone” (45). This shows that the husband doesn’t know his wife’s true self if he’s calling her at her most comfortable satanic after thinking she was extremely delicate and lady-like. On top of this, both of them lie to each other about where they are going and live double lives. Therefore, they do not seem to know each other very well.

Because they do not know each other well and put on a facade for their partner, their relationship is built on lies. It is also built on the MALE/female binary that also negatively affects their relationship. This results in a poor relationship that is bound to fail.

6 thoughts on “The Secret Woman: Why the Character’s Relationship Was Doomed From the Beginning

  1. Reid M.

    I definitely agree, but I wonder how much you can truly know someone. Even if you’ve been with someone for 3 decades you still don’t really know them. You might understand their past, their tastes, and their general disposition, but I think it’s truly impossible to really understand another person: they don’t even understand themselves! In a strange way, maybe all relationships are destined to fail. Sometimes we just die before they do.


  2. Sadie F.

    I agree that the MALE/female binary plays a really big role in their relationship. The way they see each other is through that lens and it is really impossible to move past it.


  3. Julien D.

    I agree that they are both hiding a lot from each other (maybe too much). But, I think that almost everyone has a devious side to them (as Freud would say your ‘id’) that only comes out sometimes. I also think that the man realizes this at the end and accepts his wife since he also went to the party in secret and she isn’t only with one guy.


  4. Estefania L.

    While I don’t think you can ever know a person completely, I do agree with your idea that the couple in this story put on an act for one another. I also think the husband in this story chose to see her as fragile and delicate. That was precisely how he wanted his wife to be. I believe this also explains why he acted so poorly when he saw her not acting this way. In his eyes, while he may have been at the party, doing the same things as her, because she broke his perception of her, she is in the wrong.


  5. Ben K

    I do also agree that the M/F binary plays a big part in this story, but I also don’t think all of the secrecy necessarily means that this relationship is totally ungenuine. It definitely could, but I also think that the ball provides an opportunity for the wife to explore herself more and be freed of a societal standard that she has as this man’s wife. Given the little we know about the couple in this story, some time off from one another might be a healthy expression of free will or be evidence of a dysfunctional relationship.



    I agree with you that their relationship would never truly work. Because of their lies and the binaries that influenced them, they could never be fully or even slightly honest with one another, especially not when they were both leading double-lives. While binaries do not automatically mean relationships are doomed, I agree that in this particular case, they were detrimental.


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