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Robert Olen Butler’s “Love” begins with an abstract statement from the narrator and it is referred to throughout the story. We learn that the narrator was a spy for the American Air force and he “was once able to bring fire from heaven” down upon his wife’s lovers. Butler uses elements of a fairy tale to create an interesting twist in the lives of his characters. The narrator is both cursed and blessed with being married to an incredibly beautiful woman. She is depicted as the stereotypical damsel in distress when men prey on her because of her beauty, which allows the narrator to be her knight in shining armor while they are in Saigon. The narrator is blinded by her beauty and doesn’t want to believe that the fault lies with his wife, as well as the other men. The narrator’s training as a spy should have made him more perceptive to his wife’s infidelity, but ironically, he blames himself for not being worthy of her. Butler names her “Butterfly” to signify her flighty personality and her beauty.  As the story progresses, she transforms into a sort of temptress and the narrator no longer has any power over her when they move to Louisiana. The narrator describes himself as very physically weak, but compares himself to Napoleon and Attila the Hun, which were very powerful men. Butler alludes to these two historically iconic men because they were physically tiny, but commanded great authority. The narrator feels powerless in Louisiana and thus, turns to a witch doctor to solve the problem of his wife’s infidelity. Doctor Joseph tells the narrator that he must fill a sheep bladder with goat feces and throw it on his wife’s lover’s roof. He is willing to risk personal shame and he won’t leave his wife, even when she emerges from her lover’s house. Butler ends the story with a mix of emotions. It is terribly tragic that the narrator was basically willing to die for his wife, even though she cheated on him many, many times. Then, when he fell out of the tree and ended up in the hospital, she transforms into the perfect, devoted wife and is suddenly interested in his opinions on history. So like a fairy tale, it ends happily and the witch doctor cured his wife of her infidelity, or maybe she realized how much her husband cared for her. Although, that should have been apparent when he was willing to kill men just for looking at her; she represents the theme of dangerous beauty.

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