Study Guide

Here We Are Jealousy

By Dorothy Parker

Jealousy

"…I thought, "Well I never thought Louise good look like that!" Why, she'd have knocked anybody's eye out."

"Oh, really?" she said. "Funny. Of course, everybody thought her dress and hat were lovely, but a lot of people seemed to think she looked sort of tired. People have been saying that a lot lately…" (30-31)

The wife's comment about Louise looking "tired" is really a defensive reaction to the husband's praise. What she's really saying is that she doesn't want her husband to think that Louise is better looking than her.

"It's too bad," she said, "you didn't marry somebody that would get the kind of hats you'd like. Hats that cost three ninety-five. Why didn't you marry Louise? You always think she looks so beautiful. You'd love her taste in hats. Why didn't you marry her?" (53)

The Louise thing is still gnawing on the wife, and the hat argument is really a way of returning to this unresolved issue. The wife still feels insecure, unsure of what her husband's attitude is toward her now that they're married. So, she's testing that out, in a (nasty) way.

"Why didn't you marry her?" she said. "All you've done, ever since we got on this train, is talk about her. Here I've sat and sat, and just listened to you saying how wonderful Louise is. I suppose that's nice, getting me all off here alone with you, and then raving about Louise right in front of my face. Why didn't you ask her to marry you? I'm sure she would have jumped at the chance. There aren't so many people asking her to marry them. It's too bad you didn't marry her. I'm sure you'd have been much happier." (55)

This blows up the husband's comments about Louise into a problem of vast proportions. The wife's simmering and perhaps accurate doubts about their marriage end up manifesting in a patently silly way.

"Listen, baby," he said, "while you're talking about things like that, why didn't you marry Joe Brooks? I suppose he could have given you all the twenty-two dollar hats you wanted, I suppose!"

"Well, I'm not so sure I'm not sorry I didn't," she said. "There! Joe Brooks wouldn't have waited until he got me all off alone and then sneered at my taste in clothes. Joe Brooks wouldn't ever have hurt my feelings. Joe Brooks has always been fond of me. There!" (56)

Yowch. It's pretty extreme to say you should have married someone else less than three hours after your wedding. But we can't take this that seriously—the wife is still fishing for some comfort, really, some security as to whether she made the right choice. She wants her husband to reassure her about marrying him.

"Listen," he said. "I don't want anything he gives you in our apartment. Anything he gives you, I'll throw right out the window. That's what I think of your friend Joe Brooks. And how do you know where he is and what he's going to do, anyway? Has he been writing to you?" (53)

The husband rises to the wife's bait and argues passionately with her. But maybe this is a good thing (from the wife's perspective)—he's demonstrating that he cares about her and doesn't want her to be corresponding with any dudes who might be interested. It shows he's attached to her.

"I suppose my friends can correspond with me," she said. "I didn't hear there was any law against that."

"Well, I suppose they can't!" he said. "And what do you think of that? I'm not going to have my wife getting a lot of letters from cheap traveling salesmen!" (61-62)

Basically, the comment on the last quote applies here. The husband's passion might (again, from the wife's perspective) be a good thing—it should make her feel more secure, in that she's married someone who cares about her (or, at least, cares enough to be jealous on occasion).

"Well, you certainly took an awful lot of notice of her today," she said. "On our wedding day! You said yourself when you were standing there in the church you just kept thinking of her. Right up at the altar. Oh, right in the presence of God! And all you thought about was Louise." (69)

The husband has a hard time explaining that this wasn't meant seriously—according to him, it was just a weird part of his train of thought. This is sort of believable though, because he mentioned it so guilelessly and didn't seem to realize that it would provoke any jealousy.

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