Divorce In Professor Brown's Separating

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The short story, "Separating" is centered around a divorce between Joan and Richard. This story encapsulates the reality of ending a marriage, where both main characters and their children react and face the realities of divorce in different ways. The beginning setting during the end of summer gave a a large indication of how their marriage headed towards the end—Joan and Richard merely kept up with the appearance of having a happy marriage, but they knew that they no longer wanted to work things out. A big question that arises is what would be profound enough for this couple to divorce. Joan and Richard agree that they stayed long enough because they "always, especially, loved the children" (638). Most households believe that an unhappy marriage …show more content…
Professor Brown pointed out during class that the number one reason behind separation is due to economic difference. One instance, in particular, could potentially aim that there was a significant difference in income: "So he had drudged away, in love, in dread, repairing screens, getting the mowers sharpened, rolling and patching their new tennis court" (634) Here, it seems that Richard is either looking for a distraction away from his strained relationship or his profession and passion is in manual labor and fixing houses. Perhaps the family had wealth previously. The last summer, Joan recalled that men with ponytails worked on their grounds, and now this summer her husband had been the only one fixing their tennis court (635). The fact that they have a tennis court indicates that there is wealth, and since Joan's profession is not described, I am inferring that she is the breadwinner because of the way Updike portrays her as an independent woman. On the other hand, Richard is taking the divorce with more guilt and emotion. He cries in front of the children and pleads with them to understand. In the end, their son Dickey leaves the audience with the cliffhanger of "Why?". After a rather sensual kiss with his father, it seems as though the child is blaming himself for his parents' lack of intimacy, so he does what he can to better his father's pain. I think this last paragraph of the story was intended to show the