An Alpine Divorce Summary
The setting of the extremely spectacular mountain landscape is very effective in two ways. First of all, the beauty of the picturesque walks builds a sharp contrast with the dark feeling of hate which prevents the characters from seeing it. Secondly, it is rather symbolic: a toilsome road that zigzags up the mountain for six miles symbolizes the long way that the couple has gone to reach the peak of hatred and loneliness embodied in the image of the Hanging Outlook.
Already in the fourth paragraph the author uses foreshadowing: but neither his friends nor his enemies suspected the truth of the episode, which turned out to be the most important, as it was the most ominous, event in his life. It creates a sinister atmosphere at the very beginning of the story. Later on, the author appeals to the reader's imagination by describing the hanging outlook, citing An Alpine Divorce by Robert Barr, “one glance over the crumbling wall at the edge was generally sufficient for a visitor of even the strongest nerves.” Everyone who has ever looked into a precipice knows that once you start staring into it, it starts staring back into you. Thinking of the terrible yawning abyss, one cannot fail to create an atmosphere of an approaching disaster and dark foreboding.
An Alpine Divorce characters are quite vivid, but not too realistic. They are both described as extreme natures. Further on it is said that Mrs. Bodman lived a blameless life, and her husband was no worse, but rather better, than the majority of men. One finds it hard to believe that after being extremely good for a long time people could go to the other extreme so fast. Either they had not led such a good life, or they would not have been able to fall so low and so fast.
The ending of the story is deeply emotionally satisfying as the main character gets what he initially wanted, but at the same time the irony of life and his own shortsightedness punish him for getting it.
This short story can be best described as satire and irony, the third story. It certainly deals with the world of experience which can be called anything but idealized. The main characters are profoundly unheroic, they are human and as such flawed and weak. The story takes a firm moral stand and shows the feeling of hatred not as a romantic, passionate fire, but as a dark flame that consumes both the one who consciously kindles it as well as the one who carries it and keeps it alive.
An Alpine Divorce Comprehension Questions
What is An Alpine Divorce theme?
One of the themes communicated in the story is blindness that accompanies extreme emotions. The main character is almost literally blinded by his hatred and pays too little attention to his wife's state of mind to figure out what she is planning. His flame consumes himself. It is a valuable lesson to everyone as we all can become victims of our own overreaction and emotional short-sightedness.
What is your favourite part of the story and why?
My favorite part is the dialogue between Mr. and Mrs. Bodman on the cliff top. It contains an unexpected comment: “I know there is no thought of murder in your heart, but there is in mine, which makes the whole situation look tragic and comic at once.” A combination of things, funny and dark, is what produces a really powerful effect on the reader.
What alternative title could the story have?
A Wife Worthy of Her Husband's Steel could be an alternative title for the story. It makes use of the idiom foeman worthy of someone's steel implying that the wife described in the story is her husband's foe but also a worthy match for him.
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