Female and Male: Construction of Gender by Position and Gesture in "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife"
Female <-----------> Male
rule of the spirit (Proverbs 16:32) <------------> anger
inside <-------------> outside
The Doctor's Wife <-----------> The Doctor
"lying with blinds drawn <-------------> "sitting on his bed...cleaning his shotgun"
Nick's mother <--------------> Nick
"come and see her" <-------------> "I want to come with you"
"Nick...reading" <---------------> "Give me the book"
Note that, as in the "openness/closure" binary association, the most abstract terms in this binary association are at the top, and the specific plot details are stacked in the order in which they occurred in the text for convenient analysis of their "flow" and to help generate a paper's organization (sort of a proto-outline). Also, I have not been afraid to assign some plot elements to more than one binary, for instance, the books, which might function in the "openness/closure" and in the "female/male" systems. Since Hemingway also is creating a book, its "openness" or "closure" might be a metaphoric issue for him as an author (open=accessible, fully visible, even naked; closed=inaccessible, obscured, clothed). Femaleness, in the form of the Doctor's Wife, tries to control the masculine spirit by the power of the open book she has been reading, but males can escape that control by closing the book and going outside together--the going is more important than the object ("black squirrels") which appears to be only a convenient excuse to escape.
The doctor is almost immobilized, dangerously, with his anger and a weapon, in the female position, until he seeks his male son outdoors and they join in the bookless escape.
How does this represent values which might be inherent in early 20th-century conceptions of marriages, of professional status (i.e., doctors, lawyers, teachers), or of parent-child relations? Cultures manifest their hidden assumptions and explanations of the universe in their rules for relations between family members, but those rules are not always easy to obey, and the way they distribute privilege may be "contested," or fought over, within the cultures, themselves. Artists might be useful vehicles for expressing such cultural struggles about the rules and their distribution of privileges. Does this story suggest that Hemingway is ambivalent about his craft as a writer? Does he see surrender to talk and to open books as a precursor to loss of his maleness? As in the case of "openness-closure," the evidence from this Structuralist analysis would lead to a paper that explained gender-structuring in the story as something appealing to the reader's experience of the world, or to the era in which the story was produced, or to Hemingway's personal and artistic predilections. Evidence could come from outside the text as long as relevance was established clearly, since New Critics, we're not. What would the "maleness" conflict with Dick tell us?