2. She looked at his naked body and was ashamed, as if she had denied it. . . . She looked at his face, and she turned her own face to the wall. For his look was other than hers, his way was not her way. She had denied him what he was—she saw it now. She had refused him as himself. . . . She was grateful to death, which restored the truth. And she knew she was not dead.
At the end of the story, as Elizabeth tends to Walter’s body, she suddenly understands that she was culpable in creating the rift that had grown between her and Walter. In this moment, the anger that had been such a part of her life has dissolved, and she yearns to feel a connection to her husband. However, when she looks closely at his body and face, he seems like a stranger. Only now can she see her husband clearly, separate from the anger and resentment that colored her view of him throughout their marriage. Her shame at realizing that she had “denied him” his true self leads to her epiphany. No longer shielded by her martyrdom, she understands the truth: she has done harm to Walter by constantly trying to make him into someone he wasn’t and never embracing the man he actually was. She had let her own disappointments and annoyances overshadow the crux of their partnership. Only now, with Walter dead before her, does she understand the truth, and her realization that she herself is not dead suggests that she will now change her outlook on her life.