- Review the definition of “the gaze” and evaluate its relationship to literary fiction and the concepts of power and powerlessness.
- Discuss the literary elements of the short stories in this Unit, particularly (though not limited to) plot, characterization, point of view, setting, and theme.
- Identify and assess bias, credibility, and relevance in your own arguments and in the arguments of others whose posts you will respond to in this Unit.
Manuel Gonzales, “The Miniature Wife”: http://www.vqronline.org/fiction/miniature-wife
Sheila Heti, “Mermaid in a Jar”: http://www.shortstoryproject.com/mermaid-in-the-jar/
If you need help with “The Miniature Wife,” use these questions to guide your reading and writing so that you have enough depth in your analysis.
Can we trust that the narrator is telling us the truth? Why or why not? Did the narrator really shrink his wife unintentionally? Does he really never bring his work home? Why doesn’t he have an ally—a friend—at work?
What was their relationship like before she was miniaturized—is her appearance a clue? Are they getting along before she shrinks?
Is it significant that the narrator’s wife became mad at him when she realized that she was shrinking?
Why does she look better to him now that she has been miniaturized?
What impression is he making at the office now? Why is he falling apart?
Why does he build a dollhouse? What does it mean to build a dollhouse for an adult woman to live inside? Why doesn’t he just call it a “miniature house”? Why does he love the doll house? Why does she keep vandalizing it? Is there a difference: “doing for her, for us” –or is he only doing it for himself? Does he want to restore her to normal size? How does he envision their future life together?
What is strange about his missing his wife?
How has the wife changed?
What is the meaning of the notes the wife leaves?
How does the husband find out that his wife is cheating on him?
When the narrator tells us that he’s killed his wife’s lover, why does he do it in the form of a question? Is this typical of him?
What do we think of how he punished his wife? What precautions does he take against her revenge? How does he plan to kill her? Is he being unintentionally revealing about himself?
At the end of the story he shrinks himself, why? Is it, in a sense, she shrinks him down to size?
Optional Reading on “the gaze”:
“The Male Gaze in Retrospect,” The Chronicle of Higher Education
“The Male Gaze,” The Harvard Crimson (Harvard University’s student paper), Christina Qiu