The story speaks of the betrayal of wives to their husbands. A rich and sick bachelor wrote a letter, nine years before his death, to be delivered to his friends by his servant after his death. This bachelor wanted to tell his friends about a hidden secret that tortured his soul many years ago.
The letter was read by the doctor, the merchant, and the author. They were astonished to hear that their wives had a certain relationship with this bachelor. These three betrayed men did not act accordingly as husbands who had been betrayed by their wives.
The author accuses the bachelor of being ill-mannered and an envious person. The author was fond of his wife, for she was a respectable woman and was with him despite his difficulties. So, he did not like to angry his wife who was his pride and joy. The doctor’s idea was similar to that of the author’s; he did not want to ruin his family.
The author put the letter into a safe place, and he wanted this letter to be unfolded by his wife after his death. He imagined that she would whisper,” Oh, how splendid of you, how noble”.
This fiction story includes many meanings. We might interpret the three men’s reactions as a noble reaction or a weak one. It depends on the traditional believes of the reader.
The three friends agreed among themselves to hide this secret for the sake of their children and wives. This confirms that their collegial nature and that they hold the same values. For this, the writer does not mention their names. They are used in this story to symbolize their collective will.
We might explain that a friendship between married and unmarried people lacks the main supporter for its existence – the family. Had the bachelor lived a married life he would not have written this scornful letter to his friends?
He would be more sympathetic and passionate towards the wives’ of his friends. He would not preoccupy himself with events that happened a long time ago. He would care for the future of his friends, but being an unprofessional man and without work, he decided to selfishly hurt those around him to ease his moral conscious.
Most of the American writers like to tell the reader that there is no perfect place in this world after the fall of Adam and Eve in sin. So, reaching perfection is as impossible as reaching “Eden”. For this, condemnation is not for man but for God. So, the reaction of the three friends was not to condemn their wives, for they are sinners in their inner selves like their wives.