Winner of the 2020 WTM Riches Essay Prize

 

Introduction

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s “A New England Nun,” published in A New England Nun and Other Stories (1891), and Sarah Orne Jewett’s “Martha’s Lady,” published in The Queen’s Twin and Other Stories (1899), are stories of solitary, single, nineteenth-century women who challenge heteronormative conceptualizations of marriage and coupling through their singleness. Sara Ahmed, in her essay “Queer Feelings,” included in The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004), discusses how the heterosexual “narrative of coupling” is “a condition for the reproduction of life, culture and value” (144). By examining these stories through a close reading which views “‘the single’ as a potentially queer subject,” this paper argues that the unmarried, unpartnered figures of Louisa of “A New England Nun” and Martha and Harriet of “Martha’s Lady” offer up queer possibilities through their alternative, transgressive domesticities and departure from such narratives (Wilkinson 2452). This work, like the work of Christopher Looby, does not aim to define “queerness” and therefore what can and cannot be considered “queer.” Rather it aims to “enlarge the boundaries of the queer” by highlighting the subversive possibilities of singleness (Looby x). Through examining the challenge singleness poses to the logic of the couple, this work frames singleness in terms of the queer challenge to heteronormative relations.

Barbara Welter describes the nineteenth-century “Cult of True Womanhood” as a feminine ideal of white, middle or upper-class “piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity” enacted through marriage and motherhood (Welter 152). Louisa, Martha and Harriet offer an alternative which disrupts the stability of this cult through subverting these attributes and lifestyle. They are characters who, as Fama has written of nineteenth-century single women, find themselves in a queer position outside of the privileged norms of marriage and motherhood” (Fama 137). This paper examines how these characters may queer and threaten heteronormative expectations through their chosen, disruptive singleness, and the possibilities of women’s domestic space and ultimately the rejection of the heteronormative life trajectory of marriage and coupledom. This paper interrogates and challenges previous scholarship and analysis of these two stories and recontextualises them in light of these arguments.

The single figure may not be immediately obvious as being part of queer theory, and as Fama and Lagerwey note “singleness studies has thus far primarily presumed heterosexuality” (9). However, queer theory has been defined “not only as anti-heteronormative, but as anti-normative” (Ahmed 149). Therefore, a queer reading or approach “can be deployed to understand much more than the lives of ‘queers’” (Oswin 90). It is perhaps unsurprising then that within contemporary queer theory, queer potentialities of singleness and examinations of the single figure have recently begun to be explored in a number of recent texts and studies such as Michael L. Cobb’s Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled (2012), Heather Love’s work, particularly the examination of the spinster figure (see Love 2009), and even Benjamin Kahan’s Celibacies: American Modernism and Sexual Life (2013). This of course does not lead to the argument that every single person poses a challenge to heteronormativity, for there is of course a spectrum of singleness and people’s reasonings for being such. However, the characters of Jewett and Freeman’s stories examined here offer a sampling of this spectrum which can be read in terms of alternative domesticities and nonconforming heteronormative disruptions that therefore allow for a queer reading.

Jewett and Freeman are part of a collective of nineteenth-century writers who have, in approximately the past fifteen to twenty years, “begun to regain critical attention” (Scofield 88). Jewett and Freeman, contemporaries, both produced a significant number of short stories, novels, and other writings during their literary careers. Both are often described as “colourist” or “regionalist fiction” writers, their work was regularly focused around New England, the North-Eastern region of the United States where they both hailed from (Gale x; Ansley 434). Through their descriptive prose and “powers of observation and recording,” Jewett and Freeman depict realist stories which celebrate the lives of ordinary people (Gale x). This is merely one aspect of these writers’ work however, for it would be remiss to define their themes and abilities as merely confined to a particular time and place. The resurgence of interest in Jewett and Freeman, has therefore led to much fresh, diverse analysis, with many contemporary theorists examining such queer possibilities within their extensive bodies of work.

Freeman: “sole satisfaction”

 Louisa Ellis, the protagonist of Freeman’s “A New England Nun,” is an excellent example of Freeman’s concern with “the inner world of women” and her ability as a writer to “probe deeply and perceptibly” into her characters minds (Reichardt xii).  This depth of probity is of great use when examining themes which focus on identity, as will be seen. Freeman draws us into a landscape which is “gentle” and slow and full of the “rest and hush” of the day drawing to a close (Freeman 640). This “soft diurnal commotion” is also reflected in Louisa; her surroundings and life are described with a serene stillness which she “peacefully” presides over (Freeman, 641). Louisa’s home and life are oriented around indulgence and individuality; this is the home and routine of a single woman who shows a quiet contentment in her daily life. This peacefulness pervades throughout the description of Louisa’s “carefully” performed, meticulous daily routine (641). Louisa’s quiet contentment is evident in the “slow and still” movements she takes while preparing her tea (641). She luxuriates in gathering her currants, feeding her chickens, and laying forth her pristine kitchen table where she has arranged, amongst other things, “a china sugar-bowl, and one pink china cup and saucer” (641). This contentment and nonnormative single domesticity is, however, largely disrupted by the arrival of her fiancé Joe Dagget.

Joe’s arrival is marked by “his heavy step” and his presence seems to Louisa to “fill up the whole room” (Freeman 641). Joe is entirely antithetical to Louisa, and his “loud voice” and later clumsiness are at odds with her “soft” voice and careful diligence (642). His effect on her is one of anxiety and “mild uneasiness” (642). It perhaps comes as a surprise to readers, then, to learn of Louisa and Joe’s long-standing engagement. This nervousness could perhaps be read as the anxiety of a woman who is “to be married in a month” to her betrothed of some “fifteen years” of which “for fourteen out of the fifteen years the two had not seen each other” (643). However, there is much evidence in the text to suggest that this affect is due to Louisa being a woman who has a comfortable, independent, “joyful, transgressive” single life which she is now reluctant to surrender (Fama 136). Her alternative domestic life is disrupted and unsettled by the arrival of Joe who represents the ideals of heteronormative marriage and womanhood Louisa is rejecting.

Joe moves and rearranges Louisa’s “square red autograph album” and her copy of “a Young Lady’s Gift Book” (Freeman 642). These small actions can be read as symbolic for the way Joe would come to rearrange and upend Louisa’s independent, transgressive domestic life if she proceeded with marrying him. Joe’s unconscious readjustment of the books causes Louisa mild distress and upset, until she finally moves the books back into their original position. Joe does not understand the significance of this placement or organisation and laughs awkwardly, causing Louisa to quietly state that she always keeps them that way. Louisa maintains a personalised, single home which is designed specifically around her, her wants, needs, and desires, things of which Joe has no understanding. His reaction to her seems almost as though it is a recurring discussion, as though he often fails to understand her or views her and her domestic space as outside of the norm. Louisa’s alternative domesticity and indulgent lifestyle is what marks her out as queering the norm to other characters in the story who are consistently unsettled by her.

Louisa’s life as a single, content woman causes disruption for more than just Joe, as can be read through her aforementioned china crockery. Louisa uses her “china every day” in a personal domestic ritual, treating herself with the love and respect she would a partner or “veritable guest” (Freeman 641). This of course falls outside of the conventional, normative etiquette of the day and is “something which none of her neighbours did” (641). This leads to gossip about Louisa and the neighbours, who “whispered about it among themselves” (641). Louisa defies and rejects the norm of reserving such indulgence for guests or special occasions. Joe’s “domineering, shrewd old” mother also seems to view Louisa as an odd character, having “already hinted her opinion” that Louisa’s domestic hobbies and way of life is a type of “foolishness” (645). It can therefore be said that Louisa is read by Joe, his mother, and the general population of the village as someone who is odd, who does not quite fit in amongst them. Through these readings she can be described as queer in the traditional sense of the word which “could mean simply odd or strange or droll” (Looby, “Queer American” author’s note). Yet what is odd about Louisa for these characters is her alternative domesticities. The relishing of simple pleasures which define her days and single life; her china, her sewing, her store of essences which she distils herself, and her feminine, “maidenly possessions” (644). Coupled with her lack of a husband or children, Louisa’s single queerness poses a threat and disruption to the norm. However, this is truly driven home by her rejection of marriage and therefore coupledom with Joe.

Louisa’s first emotion when Joe Dagget comes home is “consternation” (Freeman 644). The return of one’s long-absent fiancé should not provoke such a sense of anxiety and dismay in a person, and yet this is exactly what Louisa feels. Arguably this feeling in part arises from Louisa not choosing this marital path for herself. Louisa’s view of marriage as a young person still in the “drift of girlhood” seems to be that of viewing marriage as a forgone conclusion and “reasonable feature” of life (644). However, in the years since her engagement, which her mother seems to have pressed upon her with “her cool sense” and which she accepted with “calm docility,” she has grown to be comfortable and contented in “her happy solitary life” (644). It is not merely that she had “never dreamed of the possibility of marrying any one else” out of loyalty to Joe, but rather Louisa simply does not wish to be partnered or married to anyone (644). Louisa’s feelings reinforce the idea that her place is in the margins. Her “forebodings of disturbance” are signs that her life of “pleasant peace” which she has had “for the last seven years” since the deaths of her mother and brother, has become a life which has led her to reject the heteronormative marital expectations of the day (644-45). She has come to question the value of marriage and ultimately considers a single alternative. This alternative allows her the freedom to keep her own home and alternative domestic rituals and therefore retain her sense of self and her partnership with herself. Louisa speaks of her dread of moving after the marriage while thinking of her prized possessions and believes that if they were “robbed of their old environments […] they would almost cease to be themselves” (644). This of course applies to Louisa herself, for her home is her independent sanctuary, her alternative domesticity is the surest sign of her singleness.

There is of course a limitation of this singleness reading which can be explored through the animals in Louisa’s life. Caesar, Louisa’s dog presents the possible constraints of Louisa’s solitary life. Introduced with “the clank of a chain,” Caesar lives in a “tiny hut, which was half hidden” in Louisa’s garden (Freeman 627). The sounds and imagery this scene conjures when read in context of Louisa perhaps provide a view into the other side of her singleness. Rather than the content alternative life, Caesar represents the part of Louisa that lives, much like her little yellow canary, in a “cage,” living life as a “veritable hermit” (627, 631). Caesar has done so for fourteen years, the same length as Joe’s absence, due to his biting of a neighbour’s hand when he was “hardly out of his puppyhood” (631). Caesar’s “complete ostracism” and isolation, “shut out from the society of his kind” seems to mirror the wariness and othering of Louisa by her neighbours and village. Her solitary singleness therefore can also be read not just as a “celebration of solitude” (Burrows 348) but as a potential punishment, much like Caesar’s, for a “sin committed”; the rejection of the heteronormative societal expectations placed upon her (631).

Louisa however, it must be said, has “never felt discontented” and is fulfilled living as a single, uncoupled person (Freeman 644). She has sought no one else because there need not be anyone else. She is in fact, “peace itself” (645). It is unsurprising then that Louisa takes the revelation of Joe and Lily Dyer’s love for each other as a way to quietly end the engagement without fear of doing “a terrible injury” to Joe (648). Both Louisa and Joe would have dutifully kept to their engagement out of duty to other people rather than a desire for each other. With the end of their engagement they are both free to pursue the lives they want—in Louisa’s case, a life which is not “orientated towards coupledom and reproduction” (Wilkinson 2460). Louisa can therefore be read in total opposition to the idea of “true womanhood” put forth by Welter. Rather than allowing herself to be defined by this or judged by a “husband, her neighbours and society,” Louisa usurps and rejects them all, turning away from the social imperative of marriage and motherhood (Welter 152). Louisa instead embraces a comfortable, content, single life. She relishes her alternative domesticity and as Fama notes in “Feeling like a Queen”, this type of “domestic joy is marked as contingent, queer, excessive”; her quiet, content domestically indulgent life lies outside of the heterosexual norms (143).

Some critics have read Louisa’s rejection of Joe and of coupledom in order to live a life of “sole satisfaction” in an entirely different way (Freeman 648). Monika M. Elbert for example, reads Louisa as fetishizing her daily routine as a way of dealing with a “stunted sexuality” and “repressed sexual desires”; Elbert views Louisa’s ending as a life of “martyrdom, death, or domestic imprisonment” (Elbert 192). Mary R. Reichardt also provides a contrasting reading of Louisa as someone who presents a façade of peace and tranquillity (Reichardt 93). These readings however do not explore the queer possibilities of the text and therefore leave, as Benjamin Kahan describes, “no room for sexuality that does not aspire to normative sexual acts” (Kahan 5). Kahan is of course not discussing this text but the assertion remains relevant to this argument which views Louisa’s rejection of marriage and coupledom for a single life as a queer disruption of the heteronormative expectations placed on her. By not “following the rules of heterosexuality” through denying the heteronormative life trajectory of marriage and reproduction, she can be read as occupying a queer space, in the sense that consciously single or radically single people do by choosing to exist outside of the norm (Ahmed 147).

How much choice Louisa has, and indeed Martha has in Jewett’s story, of course has limitations. Louisa can only be freed from the engagement to Joe through the offering of an alternative partner in the form of Lily. Martha in her status as a servant is bound to her work as much as she is to Helena. These are constraints upon both women that leaves the potential to read their singleness in this way. Indeed, as has been seen, there is also the potential to read Louisa’s singleness as a form of punishing isolation for a lack of heterosexual norms and wants. It is possible to analyse Louisa in many ways, since the story is, as Reichardt states “a masterpiece of ambiguity” (91). However, viewing her rejection of heteronormative expectations as a form of content, alternative domestic singleness offers up a queer reading which can be joyfully transgressive. Jack Halberstam has suggested that queer lives – and the “queer time” cultivated outside of “the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction” – can show “the potentiality of a life unscripted by the conventions of family, inheritance, and child rearing” (14). Louisa rejects these conventions, and there is a sense by the end of the story that the only person Louisa is devoted to is herself. While rejoicing over the continuation of her hobbies and contented single life, she states she can sew and distil and carry on her peaceful life for “as long as she listed” (Freeman 648). It is an echo almost of a marriage vow, one she gives only to herself.

Jewett: “Love’s dear ambitions”

 The women of Sarah Orne Jewett’s “Martha’s Lady” share much in common with Freeman’s Louisa Ellis. The story is a testament to Jewett’s “understated reflections on women’s intimacies and female solitude” (Love 2009, 306). There are two women who are of central importance to this paper in terms of their status as unmarried and unpartnered figures: Miss Harriet Pyne and Martha, her almost life-long maid. This story moves us from “the achingly unspecific” queerness of Louisa to “the thunderously explicit” queer affection of Martha (Love 2007, 4). Martha is emblematic of Jewett’s protagonists who, typically female, often form the type of one-way relationships on display here. Martha’s attachment to Helena, as will be explored, follows a pattern of “paradoxical intimacy” which is based on distance rather than proximity (Burrows 343). To read not only the affection but the distance between these two women offers a queer potentiality based on this contradiction, a queer longing which is easier to contemplate at a distance than at close proximity.

Much has been written about this affection, with some critics, for example Glena Hobbs, arguing that what transpires between Martha and Helena is merely “an intense female friendship,” a common subject of nineteenth-century writing (Hobbs 21). Robert L. Gale appears to agree, arguing that “recent scholarship has made perhaps too much of the close relationship of Martha and Helena Vernon Dysart” (Gale 187). Others, such as Kirsti Bohata, have instead read the story as one “about same-sex desire” (Bohata, 341). Regardless of which route readers or critics take, the platonic intimacy of friends or queer desire, the story, much like “A New England Nun” offers up much for analysis. Central to this study is not only the relationship of Martha and Helena, but also the single life Martha has after Helena’s departure. This life, along with her affection for Helena, has the ability to disrupt and queer the text in a similar manner to Louisa’s narrative.

When Martha is starting out as “the new maid,” she meets Miss Harriet’s “young Boston cousin, Helena Vernon” (Jewett 207). This meeting proves very significant for Martha, resulting in a lifelong attachment and affection for her. While Harriet views Martha as “very clumsy” and not at all up to the task of being a good maid, Helena manages to aid Martha in “learning to do many things, and to do them exactly right” (Jewett 211). Helena’s position as a “sympathetic ally and defender” of Martha leads to “moments of something like delight” (Jewett 208). After Martha overhears Helena defending her merit to Harriet, these feelings of blossom further with Martha realising “she not only knew what love was like, but she knew love’s dear ambitions” (Jewett 208). Such feelings prevail throughout the course of the story, even in Helena’s long absence. As Helena’s visit to her cousin draws to a close, she begs Martha to “think of me sometimes,” to which Martha promises to think of her “every day” (Jewett 211). There is an intimacy to these moments between Martha and Helena, a palpable affection delivered through “a quick touch” or “reassuring smile,” small moments scattered throughout their interactions (Jewett 207).

Martha is noticeably upset at Helena’s returning to her parents and weeps at her leaving, yet after she is gone, she finds a contentment in life which others simply “could not understand” (Jewett 212). The story jumps to Martha as a woman “past sixty years of age,” who has not seen Helena in “more than forty years” (Jewett 212).  The Martha we see is a woman who has lived a seemingly happy, solitary life despite never forgetting the “one whom she truly loved” (Jewett 212). There is a quiet contentment to Martha, reminiscent of Louisa, as she sits in “the old wooden rocking-chair” which presides “by the window of her chamber” (Jewett 212). She sits in “happy meditation” with her face shining (Jewett 212). We see that Martha’s affection for Helena has remained, since she holds a “little wooden box” which we later see hold gifts from Helena in the form of some of her own intimate, personal objects on the day of her wedding. These objects, a small scissors, a mirror in a silver case and a handkerchief marked with Helena’s maiden name can perhaps be read as a dowry of sorts (Jewett 214). However, this is the only potentiality of marriage for Martha one can read in the text, for like Louisa, she remains a single woman throughout her life.

Martha’s singleness can perhaps be read as her holding out hope for the profound “love that was hidden” in her heart (Jewett 214). This is an attachment, as Burrows argues, based on “absence rather than presence” (344). Yet the “generous,” genuine love Martha holds for Helena throughout her life, can oftentimes be viewed as if from an aspect of remembrance, for Martha herself states she “had the joy of being remembered” (Jewett 214). This is arguably the acceptance of a love which has burned brightly, and still “prevails” and remains “faithful,” yet it sits neatly alongside an acceptance which can be seen in the scene in which Miss Harriet shows Martha the letter pronouncing Helena’s happiness over her marriage (Jewett 213; 217). Martha feels a “strange sense of loss and pain” upon reading the letter, yet she kisses the last page where Helena’s name was written as if stealing a goodbye kiss. Martha then goes on to live her life separately from Helena for “more than forty years” (Jewett 212).

It is possible to view Martha’s singleness as being influenced by this lifelong love for Helena yet there also are other considerations. Martha makes no mention of ever wanting to be married herself, yet it is clearly established within the story that her aunt, who was Harriet’s previous maid, left her position to marry “a thriving farm and its prosperous owner” (Jewett 207). It is therefore not simply that Martha cannot get married due to her work and duties as a maid but that she has no longing for or desire or perhaps even capacity to do so. Martha offers up more than one queer possibility, not only through her obvious affection for Helena, but through her singleness. She, like Louisa, although of a different social class, carves out a personal life for herself which is not centred around marriage and reproduction. At moments throughout the text it is clear that Martha’s family are not well off and are “dreadful hard pushed at home” (211). Her family do what they can to survive, with Martha working as a maid and her brother who worked and eventually “died at sea,” yet Martha does not pursue the same life trajectory as her aunt (214). She does not consider finding a similarly wealthy husband in order to aid her family. Rather, she remains single, contented to be married to her domestic work which she has dedicated to the memory of someone who showed her a great kindness when she was but starting out. Martha grows into such a competent “helper and friend” to Miss Harriet, that Martha ends up applying her “own good taste” and “everyday ways of doing things” in the “ancient house” (215-16). Like Louisa, Martha enjoys her own form of domesticity, and takes great joy in “fresh flowers” and “the old beautiful china” which due to her great care comes to be used as frequently as Louisa’s as “there was no good excuse for keeping it hidden on closet shelves” (Jewett 216).

Martha therefore has a sense of pride and independence in the old Judge Pyne house, which could potentially match that of Louisa’s. She appears as a contented woman, one who does many things for “affectionate reasons” yet these reasons are also reflective of herself (Jewett 217). Martha refers back to Helena while carrying out her daily tasks, wondering “whether this thing would please her” or if other things could “fall in with her fancy or ideas of fitness” (216). However, after such a short time together and so long apart, perhaps what she does is simply for herself as much as for Helena. Martha has long had her own life, her own tastes and pleasures and arguably the return of Helena at the end of the text causes her as much anguish and disruption as Helena’s marriage many years before. When Miss Harriet tells her of Helena’s return after such a long absence, Martha turns “a little pale,” from shock. This return of her long revered “ideal” and “idol” can be read as a disruption to the life Martha has created for herself (Jewett 212-13).

This disruption can arguably be seen through the open-endedness of the story. We are deliberately left within an ambiguous ending which sees Helena asking Martha “won’t you please kiss me good-night?” (219). This is the final line of the story and we do not see whether Martha does or does not kiss Helena, but the ambiguity of the ending offers up much possibility. It could be read that although Martha held great affection and love for Helena, she became contented in her life with being a single woman, and Helena, in an odd mirror of Joe Dagget, was simply too long away. Perhaps like Louisa, Martha has “lived so long in one way” that Martha too “shrank from making a change” (Freeman 648). It is possible however, to also read this ending through Burrow’s assessment that Jewett often writes paradoxical forms of intimate relationships where separation is the closest form of intimacy (344). This is a love separated by both time and distance. For Martha, and arguably Helena, it may have been easier to feel this queer love in absence, rather than the danger of the intensity of these feelings at close proximity. It has arguably been easier to live a separate single life which queers the norm than to act upon the more obvious queer desires at the heart of the story.

Another single woman, Miss Harriet Pyne, whom Martha works for, has a smaller presence in the text yet should not be overlooked. Miss Harriet is a character who may be deemed an acceptable type of single woman. Harriet “had been the dutiful companion of her father and mother” in their “latest years” and like Louisa, was “given to routine” (Jewett 204). Women who were the sole careers of parents or relatives represented an acceptable form of singleness in the nineteenth-century. Acceptable forms of singleness were usually this type of permanent and therefore lifelong, dutiful servitude, singleness “after bereavement or divorce” or temporary singleness for example: “in young adulthood before finding a partner” (Wilkinson 2455). Contrary to this however, Louisa of “A New England Nun” and Harriet have settled into their singleness at quite young ages as both are “by no means old” with Harriet being only “a little past thirty” (Jewett 204). Neither woman has been bereaved by husbands or fiancés, nor have they looked after their families until they were deemed too old to find perspective partners. However, Miss Harriet instead simply decides to “turn resolutely” to “the companionship of duty and serious books” rather than the conventions of marriage and motherhood (204). There is no reason for her not to pursue a potential husband yet she, like Louisa and Martha, demonstrates no desire to do so. Like Louisa, she does not consider anyone else, in fact she becomes rather unsettled when Helena and Martha send cherries to Mr. Crofton, the local minister and “bachelor” (209). She is astonished when Martha tells her and Helena that he was pleased with the gift, declaring abruptly that she had “sent him nothing!” (209). She is then put at ease by the two women when they explain, stating she “was afraid,” fearful perhaps of giving the local bachelor the wrong impression (Jewett 209). Miss Harriet clearly rejects marriage, evidently seen when Helena is getting married, as she is entirely sceptical, with “her heart against the uncertainties of marriage” (Jewett 213) Rather than seeking out partners and face the uncertainties of happiness with someone else, Harriet, like Louisa, decides to remain a single figure throughout her life, of her own accord, knowing she is happily partnered with herself.

Conclusion

The characters of Harriet, Louisa and Martha cause disruption in their narratives, not simply through what can be regarded as queer feelings on the part of Martha. These characters lie outside of what is viewed as the norm through their defiance of the heteronormative expectations of life. These characters offer the chance to examine characters who can be contented in their singleness outside of the expectations of true womanhood. This singleness, in many ways chosen for themselves, allows for a queer reading of fulfilled singleness and alternative domesticities which enables us to see the possibilities and potentiality of a life undetermined by motherhood, marriage and coupledom. Those who deviated from the ideal of marriage and motherhood were often treated as outsiders but these characters achieve a pleasure and satisfaction from their “happy independence” from sources which lie outside of heterosexual marriage (Jewett 214). Martha, Harriet and Louisa’s stories offer forms of contented single womanhood and alternative domesticity which are “exaggerated and queered” (Fama 143). Louisa, Martha and Harriet are “women transgressing domestic norms” (Fama 136). These women highlight how even in nineteenth-century literature it was possible to queer norms not just through love and affection but by attempting to live singly, outside of heteronormative standards and “to imagine intimacy beyond the totalizing logic of the couple” and to therefore live “happy solitary” lives (Wilkinson 2460; Freeman 644).

 

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