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IRWE: “I Want a Wife,” by Judy Brady

A Closer Look at Language

Objective: To identify indirect (implied or suggested) and direct language
To interpret what certain words symbolize or represent

Please complete the worksheet below and submit it to Gauchospace by 7:00 pm on May 8.

1. Background (Answer question 1 in one or two sentences)

From the background provided in American Then…1972 (p. 390), why was this essay considered to be a “classic”
for college students in America? Why is it important to consider the historical context of when this essay was

This essay was written at the early stages of feminist movement when it gaining members rapidly. The essay is a
perfect example of the usage of satire, either.

2. In paragraph 1, Brady writes, “I belong to that classification of people known as wives” (390). She could have
simply written: I am married, or I am a wife, or I am X’s wife. Her choice of language is very deliberate. Why do
you think she chose the words that she did?

She implies that wives is a category of items but not a title of a group of people because they are treated like

3. Why does the author choose to capitalize the words A Wife? How does her choice in punctuation support her idea
of A Wife being a classification?

Capitalization is a method to emphasize the word. This emphasizing also remind the readers who haven’t realized
that the sentence before is a satire about satire itself.

4. Read paragraph 1 and 2 carefully. What do you notice about the author’s tone? What word(s) imply that she has a
stronger opinion hidden below the surface of her words? She speaks about a male friend who is “looking for another
wife” (390).

She was a typical wife like a husband would like before and suddenly she awoke. She talked about “suddenly”
which emphasize her idea because this precise essay apparently is not a “sudden” thought; it must come from life for
a long time. The last sentence is the beginning of her long thought that symbols she got a very strong opinion.

5. In response, she says, “As I thought of him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too,
would like to have a wife. Why do I want a wife?” (390). Look at the words in italics. Try to interpret why she is
choosing these words.

Somehow, she expressed the idea that her want of a wife wasn’t comes from nothing but her real wife life. She was a
good traditional wife before.

6. Choose one paragraph (3-7) to analyze in detail. What does “having a wife” symbolize? Explain the answer by
looking at the language in one paragraph.

In paragraph 6, the character of wife is a servant who provide guests all they need with no pay back. For example,
“their coffee is served to them as they like it,” in other words, like what a café would do for their customers.

7. Paragraph 8: “If by chance, I find a person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty
replace my present wife with another one. Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life...” (Brady 392).
What is the author’s tone? What does a wife symbolize in this passage? For example, what are some other examples
of things that you can replace to get a newer version?

A wife is a mother, a servant, a housekeeper, a listener while not complaining about her duties. She was sarcastic
that saying wife is replaceable just like a tool.