The Secret Remains (A “The Secret Woman”)

“The Secret Woman,” is a short story following a man and his wife, who both lie to one another in order to attend an ball. Upon arrival, the man witnesses his wife engage with several men and women, cheating on her him.

The story is masterful, in that the lack of length the story contains forces the reader down a rabbit-hole of dissection of what’s already there. There’s so much to pick apart from the story off of such little content.

The narrative and dynamic between both the wife and husband creates a patriarchal binary between the man and woman, as we see the husbands attitude towards the wife do a complete 180 after seeing her self liberation at the party, introducing her as dainty and almost docile, and ending by calling her evil and black. Moreover, the husband initially lied to the wife which leaves readers uncertain towards what his intentions were at the ball in the first place.

The use of the wife’s costume also is a curious metaphor for the secrecy of the wife as I personally interpret it as a double meaning for the reader and the husband not entirely understanding the true identity of the wife. The story is all told through the husbands perspective, so we only ever get to his perception of his wife, when in reality, the wife may have been putting up a front for the husband the entire time, using her social life as a ways to reject/free herself from the binary.

Overall, the story definitely served as a change of pace from some of the other stories we’ve read whilst maintaining a lot of room to dissect, and discuss.

3 thoughts on “The Secret Remains (A “The Secret Woman”)

  1. Nate H

    Going off the last sentence of the second to last paragraph, I thought that the possibility of the wife being just as content with acting the way her husband initially viewed her as how she acted at the party is quite interesting. We touched on this in class a bit, but I was thinking more about it. When the Husband and Irene are talking at the beginning of the story, the author could have easily made Irene appear dissatisfied with the marriage, but chose not to. I wonder if the author made this decision consciously, with the intent of implying that Irene is not putting up a front for the husband, but playing the role just as enjoyably as partying. I could be looking too far into this because as you said, there is so much to look into with such a short story. I just thought the author’s decision was interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LINA E.

    I liked how you thought of different metaphors revolving the story. I agree with the second paragraph as there is much going on in the story involving feelings of both the husband and wife and how short the story came out to be.

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  3. HANK S

    You mentioned the husband’s motivation in lying about attending the ball too, which is a really interesting component of the story to me. When we meet him, he isn’t having a great time there and he’s super paranoid about his wife catching him. When he finds her, he spends an hour following her around, watching her enjoy herself, instead of doing what he likely came there to do and enjoying himself in the same way. He’s very hypocritical and possessive.

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