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A couple of Americans

Iguana – the unromantic view

One thing that people do that really annoys me is make assumptions. Then they act on what they think is going on and sometimes offend people when it turns out they are mistaken. This is why I cannot watch soap operas – so much of the drama is generated this way, and I have trouble sympathizing with characters who create their own problems.

This is what Gabrielle does.

She doesn’t get into a lot of trouble because she is naturally reserved and polite, and she keeps her observations to herself. However, for her, these observations are reality. She interprets what she sees and mentally categorizes her interpretations as facts, using them as the basis for further interpretation. She doesn’t really talk to people openly to verify what she has assumed. Even talking to her husband is like a game of implications to her, and when I read the scenes where they talk like this, I kept wondering if her husband really does understand what is going on – that she considers it a game they are playing. Gabrielle says that he does, but I am disinclined to take her completely at her word.

The title of this story is “The American Couple,” and Gabrielle spends a lot of time thinking about American culture and how it contributes to the distance between her and her husband, so I wonder if Butler intended this story to comment on the American mentality. Are Americans, in general, like Gabrielle – aloof and secure in their interpretation of what they see without troubling to verify it? The aspects of American culture that Gabrielle describes the most – game shows, soap operas, and the romanticization of the Liz and Dick story – are more about drama and excitement than about meaning and purpose.

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