Confinement in “The Judges Wife”
Often time’s authors leave trails of underlying messages in stories. These patterns are just waiting to jump out and inspire you to see an entirely different aspect to the plot. In the story “The Judges Wife,” Isabel Allende uses vivid detail to show a reoccurring pattern of confinement. You can find this pattern in the setting, within various characters, and in the plot. This literary piece is all about the rise and fall of, Nicolas Vidal, a man doomed from birth and trapped by his destiny, but if you dig deeper you’ll find the pertinence of confinement throughout the story.
One of the most obvious places you can identify confinement in this piece is in the setting. . Told by Allende through vivid details are descriptions of the physical setting. The story takes place in is Latin-American town, just large enough to have a town square; but small enough to have the locals confined to the drama the story entails. This because apparent when the townsfolk get word of Juana being locked up just days after it happens, “Her groans penetrated the entire town, filtering through closed shutters or being carried through the wind by closed doors”. (Allende, 372) Another way that confinement can be identified through the setting is by taking a closer look at details regarding the time period when the story took place. The way the Judges dress is described, “Formaly…boots shone with beeswax” (Allende, 370) would lead you to infer that the values and times are being associated with that of the 1950’s, Allende’s era. In the fifteen years after World War II, the mystique of feminine fulfillment became the cherished core of contemporary culture. Millions of women lived their lives trying to uphold the image of a ‘housewife’. Kissing their husbands goodbye in front of the picture window before filling their station-wagons full of children and chartering them to and from school was just part of the show. They baked their own bread, sewed their children’s clothes, smiling as they continually cleaned their spotless kitchens. “Her loudest words were a soft spoken greeting; her most expressive gesture was a graceful nod of the head.” (Allende, 371) this exert, like many others, explains how Casillda was confined into the cookie cutter expectation of a wife in her particular setting. In this time period women were confined to strict stereo-types, just as Casillda in the story.
Another area that you may find a reoccurring pattern of confinement in the story is in the characteristics of your main characters. Nicolas has been defined by his fate, and confined to having a ‘cold heart’ approach to women in order to protect himself. This is clearly stated in the text when Allende writes “Mindful of his destiny, he had always been wary of any emotional connection.” Juana the forlorn, Nicolas’ mother, was confined to a life of sin in the town’s only brothel. The Judge who was described in the beginning of the story as someone who executed the law with such stubbornness, he was feared throughout the province after being married to Casillda, was confined by love. He became notably kinder in ruling to those he would have otherwise been tough on; As stated in the text “Though no one ever succeeded in confirming these rumors, his wife got credit for his new found kindness” (Allende, 371) As mentioned beforehand, and multiple times textually, Casillda deals with a great deal of confinement when it comes to her role as the judges wife. “Every Sunday at noon she would go to mass with her husband, cool and collected... seemingly untouched by our pitiless summer, as wan and frail looking as the day of her arrival.” (Allende, 371) this quote explains that even her daily routines were confined to that of a ‘perfect wife’s.’
The pattern of confinement shows up in