The Young Housewife

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The basic concept of The Young Housewife is that the male had superior dominance over the female. The male works and makes all of the money and in turn owns the hours that the woman is essentially allowed to live in. “Behind the wooden walls” represents the limits and control the husband has over the housewife. In the poem, it’s ten a.m. and the housewife is in negligee which suggests that she has the freedom, which doesn’t escape the wooden walls of her husband’s house, to wake up and somewhat lounge around as she pleases as long as she’s at her husband’s disposal when he gets home. The second stanza says that “she comes to the curb to call the ice-man” and “fish-man”. Later in that same stanza, she is compared to a fallen leaf. The housewife’s husband and his dominance could represent the tree from which the fallen leaf, the housewife, falls. When she goes to the curb, uncorseted and trying to make herself look attractive, as a prostitute does, and calls the men, it could represent how she falls away from her husband (devotion) into the hands of the other men. In a sense, she’s bound to this house that her husband owns and the only way she knows how to experience freedom with all of the limits that her husband has put on her is by cheating on him. The narrator is watching all of this as he passes by in his car. He compares her to a fallen leaf to suggest that she is “easy” and that he could have sex with her if he really wanted to. In the end, he runs over the dried leaves, which could represent the idea of having sex with her and passes her smiling. He recognizes the opportunity and temptation, but doesn’t give into it. Works Cited Ahearn, Barry. "On "the Young Housewife"" 1994. University of Southern Maine. 6 Nov. 2007 <>. "The Poets - William Carlos Williams (1883–1963)." Yahoo! Education. 2005. 6 Nov.
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