Essay on A Domestic Dilemma

This essay has a total of 1341 words and 5 pages.

A Domestic Dilemma


Carson McCullers takes the reader on a journey into the lives of a family plagued by
alcoholism in "A Domestic Dilemma". The realism of the story is astounding, as most people
will often find themselves torn when facing difficult family decisions. The Meadows’
family is torn by both compassion and suffering, and Martin Meadows is faced with one of
the most difficult decisions of his life. In A Domestic Dilemma, the author conveys the
idea that individuals facing difficult decisions in marital relationships must act in the
best interest of one’s self.


The conflicts in the story surround Martin and Emily’s marital relationship. It is clear
that their marriage is deteriorating because of Emily’s alcoholism. Emily often attempts
to hide her drinking from her husband and when Martin inquires about his wife’s earlier
drinking, she responds "Because I drink a couple of sherries in the afternoon you’re
trying to make me out a drunkard." in a sharp, unforgiving tone. Martin becomes frustrated
knowing that he is not able to trust his own wife with any responsibilities around the
house because of her intoxication, "If you could only realize how sick I am - how bad it
is for all of us." He pleads with Emily and tries to calm her often, but underneath his
calm and passive mask Martin’s fear and worry for his children causes him to despise
Emily’s behavior. "His youth was being frittered away by a drunkard’s waste, his very
manhood subtly undermined." Two events that worried Martin the most were when Emily was
making cinnamon toast for the children, she accidentally used cayenne instead of cinnamon.
Their son, Andy, took a bite of the toast and cried because it burned his mouth. The other
mistake that Emily made was while bathing her baby, she dropped Marianne and cut the
child’s fragile head on a table. Because of Emily’s ignorance and drinking her baby
daughter could have died or been seriously injured. Martin Meadows also faces another
conflict. His heart is wrenched in turmoil as he struggles with the decisions that may
force him to choose between his love for his children and his love for his wife. The
devotion that Martin feels towards his children is evident throughout "A domestic
Dilemma". He views his children’s faces as "radiant as flower petals, equally loved." Also
illustrating his love for his children, Martin "kissed the tiny hand that lay palm
upward." Although Martin and Emily’s marriage is covered in a heavy blanket of stress, it
is obvious that Martin still loves his wife. "As Martin watched the tranquil slumber of
his wife the ghost of the old anger vanished." He knows that his emotional and physical
desire for Emily may be the very element that destroys his children’s lives. Martin is
searching for a solution to his problems that will keep all his loved ones safe.


Martin Meadows is an ideal husband. He works hard in his office and his home. Martin is
amazingly efficient, tending to the garden, decorating for Christmas, cooking for his
children, and pulling their lose teeth. He longs for the days back in Alabama when his
family was happy and alcohol was not a part of their lives. From the start of the story
Martin is weary from the disappointment he has encountered in the changes seen in his
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