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Vollmerhausen, J.W. (1950). “Pavilion of Women” A Psychoanalytic Interpretation. Am. J. Psychoanal., 10(1):53-60.

(1950). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10(1):53-60

“Pavilion of Women” A Psychoanalytic Interpretation

Joseph W. Vollmerhausen

Pearl buck's novel, Pavilion of Women, depicts a particular culture, and life in this culture. It portrays the relationships between members of one family, especially that between a husband and wife as they approach middle age. When we sharpen the focus on Madam Wu, the main character, we are impressed by Mrs. Buck's deep and penetrating interest in human nature. Madam Wu is a Chinese, and the story unfolds in the setting of the ancestral estate of the Wu family. But above and beyond her race and social status, Madam Wu is a human being. It is in this perspective that we study her.

When we first meet Madam Wu, we are immediately impressed by her gentility, her kindness, her soft feminine voice, her slender, ethereal beauty. Her maid Ying says, “Jade is as beautiful as ever against your skin. What other woman of forty can say this?” Madam Wu answers, “Do not speak quite so loudly, he is still asleep.” How considerate she appears about her husband's sleep!

Yet secretly she plans to leave him. It is now her fortieth birthday and she has decided to change the course of her life. No longer will she be a wife to Mr. Wu. She feels her sexual life has come to an end and that she will find a substitute sexual partner for Mr. Wu. In her culture, such a decision was permissible, but the only one in her environment who found it acceptable was Madam Wu. When she tells her friend, Madam Kang, of this decision, Madam Kang is astounded and curious. “It is only for his sake,” Madam Wu says and, as an afterthought, adds, “and for my own.

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