Tobias Wolff’s short story, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,” is a naturalistic drama because the protagonist, Mary, has made herself as agreeable as possible and rarely expresses her own opinions, following an orthodox way of life. Mary then improvises an intense lecture and chooses to take her own path in her own teachings, when realizing she is brought in for a sham job interview. Mary is then rewarded by finding her own voice and self-beliefs when choosing to rebuke the cold harshness Louise and the entire hiring committee had provoked on her.
Mary is introduced as impassive; conforming to what is accepted by her fellow trustees, and unable to express her own opinions. As Mary saw a “brilliant and original,” professor lose his job for expressing his own ideas, Mary becomes confined to the traditional teaching ways. She makes sure she is accepted by all and avoids any ...view middle of the document...
Louise’s article was one that was affable and an appropriate lecture topic among the school committee, but one that Mary would, “rather die than read.” Mary’s choice to read that article or follow her own beliefs is the defining factor that will represent who she is. The conflict is within herself to keep on the path of orthodoxy or finally express how she feels.
Mary finds faith in her own teachings and breaks her impassive cycle resulting in the decision to share her opinion and prove that following her own beliefs is more rewarding than plagiarizing who she is. As she shares the story of the martyrs, she realizes that the people who follow and teach what is most accepted by society truly restrict and cheat themselves of true happiness. As Louise begins to, “wave her arms,” and yell Mary’s name, Mary takes faith in herself and ignores all other voices. When Mary turns off her hearing aid, it resembles the moment she realizes her voice is all that truly matters.
The lecture Mary gives represents her “good death,” showing she has finally learned that being agreeable ultimately serves little purpose and is rewarded by finding her true self. The dramatic lecture shows she is tired of her faint voice and the fact she is taken advantage of. The lecture she chooses to share depicts her ability to change and realizes staying true to herself is the most important aspect of all. The parable was not only to scold Louise and the committee but to prove to herself she has more to offer than just being a tool for the Universities rule and life in general. She learns that being trapped in orthodoxy is worse than fulfilling her true beliefs.
This naturalistic drama shows taking faith in herself was more rewarding then taking faith in others. Mary learns going through the motions leads to an unsatisfied life, whereas making her own path leads to a more fulfilling one. Her decision to change and good faith in herself leads her to a more rewarding life. Overall, Mary’s naturalistic ways are much more worthwhile in the long run and much more effective on her life.