A Reliable Wife - Part 2 - St. Louis, Winter, 1908, Chapters 13 and 14 Summary & Analysis

Robert Goolrick
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Part 2 - St. Louis, Winter, 1908, Chapters 13 and 14 Summary

Chapter 13: Catherine makes herself wait for five days before returning to Antonio. During that time, she fantasizes even more about being with him, makes plans for her garden, and writes letters to Truitt describing the situation and saying that, against the advice of the watchful detectives, she wants to visit Antonio alone. Truitt sends a letter in response saying free she's to do whatever she likes, and Catherine realizes just how thoroughly he is in her control. After the five days are over, she dresses carefully and goes, alone, to Manetti's apartment. When he opens his door and sees who it is, he pulls her into the apartment. Soon they are making love, and spending days doing so. Catherine becomes lost in what was her old life of sex, drugs, and self indulgence, falling in love with Antonio and promising him everything, including Truitt's money once he's dead. Antonio, still furious with his father and refusing to believe her protestations that he's changed, tells her he saw Truitt beat his mother to death. Calling Catherine a whore, he tells her he only wants Truitt dead and to live in the Italian house. She promises him it will happen, refers to the arsenic she has in her possession and asks him to be patient. He tells her that slowly, she is re-opening his heart. Onbe day, Catherine looks at the gaudy clothes she's bought herself and keeps in Antonio's closet, recalls the life she used to live, realizes she can't go back to the idealized life she lived as a child, and then carefully washes and dresses, resuming her disguise.

Chapter 14: Catherine spends her nights with Antonio and her days sleeping at her hotel, then after waking writing letters to Truitt, saying she needs more time to convince Antonio to come home. With Antonio she visits beer parlors and drug dens, sometimes asking after her younger sister Alice and being told she (Alice) is basically self-destructing. When they make love, he always withdraws before his orgasm, narration commenting that he didn't want to risk fathering a child. Meanwhile, Catherine tells him about Truitt, being careful to portray him in the most positive light possible and telling him everything about the Italian house is as it was. For his part, Antonio tells her repeatedly how vicious Truitt was and how his rage was only eased by heavy use of drugs and by sex. Eventually, angry with Catherine for again suggesting he come home, Antonio tells her that he knows where Alice is, narration commenting that he and Alice once had very quick, meaningless sex. When he says she is in "Wild Cat Chute," Catherine cries and Moretti smiles.

Part 2 - St. Louis, Winter, 1908, Chapters 13 and 14 Analysis

One of the interesting things to note about this section is how it explores and/or manifests the symbolic value of Catherine's clothes and specifically, the different aspects of her life that different clothes represent. In this section, those differences are particularly, and vividly, apparent. Other important points to note about this section include the reference to Catherine's sister and the reference to Antonio's habits around ejaculation (which prove particularly important to Catherine when she discovers she is pregnant. Then there is the reference to Antonio's habit of using the passion of sex, not to mention his drive for constant and varied sexual activity to suppress his feelings. Here it's particularly interesting to note that Truitt does something quite similar when he uses sexual activity as a means to suppress other feelings. In other words, in the same way as Truitt and Catherine have very similar characteristics in terms of their identity, past history, and their attitudes, so too Truitt and Antonio share similarities in behavior. Finally, there is the reference to Alice, to Antonio's brief and somewhat surprising encounter with her, and to the implication that finding her is not going to be the positive experience Catherine clearly hopes it is going to be.

This section contains 674 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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