Astronomer's Wife Quotes


But whenever the astronomer gave voice to the thoughts that soared within him, she returned in gratitude to the long expanses of his silence. Desert-like they stretched behind and before the articulation of his scorn.

Page 3, Paragraph 5

Whenever Mr. Ames seems to pay Mrs. Ames attention, which comes at infrequent and unpredictable times, she savors the moments. The bouts of silence and the isolation is what she compares to being "Desert-like", going on for long lengths of time with no end in sight.

This quote epitomizes the dysfunction of their marriage, and the anguish Mrs. Ames suffers as a result of it. She wishes to take precendence to his work, but he's too wrapped up to notice his own actions.

Mrs. Ames often waxes poetic, using nature imagery to describe her feelings. Immediately after this passage, she compares her sorrow to clinging to floating debris in the ocean. She struggles in vain but has no courage to express this to her husband, thus suffering in silence.

Surely it seemed to him strange for a man to linger in bed, with the sun pouring yellow as wine all over the place.

Page 3, Paragraph 11

Here we see the plumber and the astronomer's vastly different perspectives on life. The plumber prefers to start his day early and productively, taking tasks into his own hands. This is why he finds it strange when Mrs. Ames admits that her husband is still sleeping well into the morning.

Additionally, gender roles affect his perspectives on how men and women ought to act in society. He deems it less respectable for a man to "linger in bed" while Mrs. Ames completes housework. 

The astronomer, on the other hand, lives a leisure lifestyle. His work does not require physical exertion, so he devotes his energy to his intellectual prowess. Here, the plumber's difficulty in understanding the astronomer's actions stem from the fundamental differences between the men. 

There was a young and strange delight in putting questions to which true answers would be given. Everything the astronomer had ever said to her was a continuous query to which there could be no response.

Page 4, Paragraph 9

When Mrs. Ames asks the plumber what he can do to fix the damaged soil lines, she revels in the fact that he will be able to answer her directly. In reality, Mrs. Ames cares little of the soil lines; she only wishes to be validated and heard.

The astronomer deals with the philosphical, the unanswerable questions of the universe.The plumber's straightforward nature is thus a comfort to Mrs. Ames, who is more comfortable dealing within the boundaries of what is already known. She prefers simplicity and order, which for once has been given to her. 

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