One Reader Writes (Hemingway)

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One Reader Writes
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman sought advice from a doctor about her husband's syphilis treatment, unsure if it would be safe to live with him again and struggling with her feelings about his illness.

A woman sat at a table in her bedroom, writing a letter to a doctor she had seen in the newspaper. She needed advice on a very important decision and didn't know who else to trust. She couldn't ask her parents, so she turned to the doctor, hoping he could help her.

The woman explained her situation in the letter. She had married a man in the U.S. service in 1929, and he was sent to China that same year.

The Woman — narrator; married to a man with syphilis; caring, conflicted, and seeking advice.
The Husband — man with syphilis; in U.S. service; went to China and returned with the illness.

I married a man in U. S. service in 1929 and that same year he was sent to China, Shanghai — he staid three years — and came home.

He stayed there for three years before returning home. He was discharged from the service a few months ago and went to his mother's home in Helena, Arkansas. He wrote to her, asking her to come home. When she arrived, she discovered that he was taking injections for a disease that sounded like "sifilus."

The woman wanted to know if it would ever be safe for her to live with her husband again. She hadn't been in close contact with him since his return from China. He assured her that he would be okay after the doctor finished treating him, but she wasn't sure if she could believe him.

He assures me he will be OK after this doctor finishes with him — Do you think it right?

She had heard her father say that one could wish themselves dead if they became a victim of that disease. She wanted to believe her husband, but she also trusted her father's opinion.

The woman thanked the doctor in advance for his advice and signed her name. She hoped that he could tell her what was right to do. She thought he looked smart in the newspaper and believed he could help her. She wanted to do whatever was right, but she was struggling with the situation. It had been a long time since she had seen her husband, and she didn't understand why he had contracted the disease. She wished he hadn't gotten it and wondered why he had to have a malady at all.