‘In This Country but in Another Language My Aunt Refuses to Marry the Man Everybody Wants Her To’ by Grace Paley

Only two pages long, but isn’t the title already a story unto itself? The man is never mentioned. Indeed, the story is mostly about what is not there. The aunt refuses to tell the narrator about the terrible things the grandmother has seen. The grandmother and the father tell the aunt she has not lived. The horrors of war and revolution flare up in a sentence or two, go on humming in the background. I cannot separate this story from ‘Conversation with My Father.” I think of it as the matriarchal counterpoint. The final lines: “My grandmother said to all our faces, Why do you laugh? But my aunt said, Laugh!”

Collected in Later the Same Day, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1985

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s