O’ Henry’s story is an emotional prologue that sparks emotions upon reading it, especially for people who have experienced the challenges in marital life. Marriage is a good tradition as it can help nourish as a whole, yet the healthy cactus in Henry’s story shows the symbolism of what pain can inflict on someone. The symbolism in the novel shows that marriage and divorce go hand in hand. Love is healthy, yet the marriage tradition is full of flaws when it comes to the truth. It is evident that people make mistakes in their life, and it does not imply that forgiveness should be conditional (Ron and Lori 53). If there is to be an enjoyment of happiness in marriage, then there calls for the endurance of the thorns which pierce the heart and cause traumatic pain. Henry’s message is that marital conflicts are traumatic as they are hard to resolve unless there is not a single speck of egoism by one of the partners. In most cases, men bear the burden of being bad guys, while women easily find it through remarrying.
The Cactus is a great novel that has metaphorical devices and irony to express the emotional torture which women and men pass through as they attempt to stay together. The book’s paradox of death is the destroyer of love between a man and a woman. It is hard to accept that men or women plan for failure in their marriage life. But there are some deeds that are unjust and make emotions of anger and hatred which divide people. Who have been journeying hand-in-hand to deal with the torments of life as a husband and a wife; divorce is a metaphor for “Conflict in marriages,” (Booth et al. 228). Although one can criticize the ignorance of Trysdale, it is not true that the audience is aware of the cause of the emotional trauma is due to the egoism of the man and the failure to accept the engagement cactus. Perhaps the gift is not good enough for Trysdale, or maybe he wants roses, not cacti, or even he wants the woman herself. It is mystical, and challenging to understand the plot of the novel, however, there is an emotional attachment to the story, and it impacts the reader.
Forgiveness and understanding are essential in rekindling the fire of love. Or why do people marry? Is it not because they are in love? The cactus is simply a metaphor for how women at times act in a matrimonial case, they leave a man for no reason but on the judgment that there are gender inequality and egoism of the male partner (Nuti 290). If love is so good, then one can wonder why people quarrel in marriages, or why there is physical violence, yet it is ironic that couples swear to live together until death separates them. The emotional heartache that the main character feels through memories of the marriage ceremony shows the extent of sorrow which are element of love.
In conclusion, people need to understand the psychological needs of their partners instead of self-centralism which can affect the moods of the couple. If love is not based on acceptance of the erroneous nature of men and women, then the institution is based on mutual relationship, without it, marriage can’t be traditional and contentment can symbolically represent pain, both physically, and emotionally. Another message that the author of The Cactus tries to pass to men is that indulging in substance abuse when divorce happens is not necessary for emotional pain. When Trysdale refuses the beer, it shows maturity and self-control during hard times. Also, the author tries to reveal how men socialize in times of sorrow and beer seems a fast option to relieve the pain. But it is true that friends do get angry with each other when one does not accept offers that they choose to ignore. Socially, The Cactus presents the need for understanding, although the author leaves it an unrestricted option for the audience to interpret the message and make decisions concerning marital life. People have to move on with life, even the death of a partner causes sorrow, but one cannot forever torture themselves because of personal mistakes in life, because it is normal.
- Nuti, Alasia. 'How should marriage be theorized?.' Feminist Theory 17.3 (2016): 285-302.
- Clark, Ron, and Lori Clark. Reflections from the Marriage Table: Our Experiences of Love in Marriage, Family, and Ministry. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016.
- Booth, Alan, et al., eds. Couples in Conflict: Classic Edition. Routledge, 2016.