Marilyn French’s next commentary on gender relations is seen in her second novel, BH where she focuses on the love affair between Dolores, a divorced feminist seeking an egalitarian relationship with Victor, a married executive with traditional values. Dolores is disappointed in her marriage with her husband Anthony thinks that the children are making their life difficult and in fit of anger he often used to punish them severely. However Dolores has the courage to show her anger by her actions–like breaking same dishes, throwing pies at her husband’s face.
Anthony, too, was abusing Dolores verbally. Dolores’ protest to this situation was either leaving the house or asking for divorce. While talking with Victor she expresses her feelings as follows: Oh, you know, I was such a fool. I accepted his cruelty, his craziness, thinking I could cure it by love and fidelity and acceptance (French 182). Anthony continued disturbing her and the children after their separation by coming to dinner every night.
Even the way he commits suicide is violent as he gets in to the ear in the garage and let her daughter Elspeth find his corpse in order to take revenge from Dolores. This action not only distorted Dolores but also Elspeth’s life as she killed herself in the like manner. Victor was ready to spend most of his time with Dolores but married Dolores has doubts about the future of their relationship although she does not want to be his wife. Victor is not selfish either and tries not to hurt Dolores at all.
He has the courage to tell his daughter Vickie who comes to visit her father during Christmas time, that Dolores is his lover. However Victor has no chance to end his marriage as his wife is crippled after an attempt to kill herself when she learns about his affair with another woman. Victor decides to leave his wife as (he) thinks, he is a symbol to her and she could manage without him. (397) This decision angers Dolores who says Doesn’t ask me, he tells me. Just announces his decision, sure I accede to it. Is that a portent? (397) In fact Dolores does not want him to stay with a woman who is paralyzed and silent but she wants him to leave his wife for himself, as she does not want the responsibility and guilt of his action. Another female character who suffers like Dolores is Mary who has married to a doctor and is beaten by him. Her husband Rogers was a well known doctor and even though she bled to death after quarrel, at the court she was accused of deserting her children and she was allowed to see them only twice a week. Both of them were found guilty as the members of the court were all male and they did not wish to admit that a member of their sex is guilty of any crime. Marys suffering, influences Dolores to such an extent that remembering her experiences she explains her feelings to Victor as follows:
What is it?
It’s my heart.
He sat opposite her. He took her hand. You’re sick in your heart?
Yes, it bleeds. Theres no cure for it. And it won’t go away, even when I ignore it. (French 116)
These words show that she suffers deeply not only for her own tragic experience but also for the experiences of the other women who are in the same state. Her heart also bleeds for Victors daughter Vickie who is victimized by her married professor at the university. Vickie thinks that the professor was also in love with her but realizes that he doesnt take her seriously as he leaves her after learning that she is pregnant. Vickie’s feelings are expressed as follows.
He said it was my responsibility to take care of things like that and to teach me lesson, he, wasnt even going to help me pay for an abortion. And I cringed, I apologized, I insisted I wasnt asking for money, if hed only go with me. But he wouldnt. I got the money together, that wasn’t a problem, but I had to go alone, and that felt awful. He was annoyed with me and I was terrified of losing him. (French: 157)
Marilyn French has written an extraordinary novel, OF, about a famous and wealthy man, Stephen Upton, who has suffered a stroke, and his four daughters, each born to a different mother, have gathered in his house near Boston. Multimillionaire Stephen Cabot Upton is a famous elder statesman, advisor to presidents. To his children, however, he has been a remote, terrifying figure, withholding love from each of them and deliberately keeping them apart. . Each daughter is but an archetype of the kind of creature that a woman can develop into in our sexually repressed world. Elizabeth, a terribly thin 53-year-old redhead, works as a government economist. She i