Lynn Nottage’s play “Poof!” presents a short but highly expressive depiction of the life of a married woman whose husband does not appreciate her and abuses her frequently. There are two of such female characters in the story, and attitudes toward family problems are quite similar. Maybe Loureen and Florence treat their problems a little differently depending on the fact of having children or the degree to which the husband’s attitude can be tolerated. However, the two women have mostly common views on marriage and the role of respectful relationships in it. Nottage describes these opinions in a funny way with the use of elements of fiction.
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The general opinion about women and their place in the family differs in Loureen’s and Florence’s perceptions. Loureen is tired of constantly being abused by her husband, both physically and verbally. However, when she supposedly kills him by accident, she feels remorseful and scared. She even tells her friend not to wrinkle the jacket because “that’s his favorite jacket” although it is apparent that Samuel will not need it any longer (Nottage 1111). However, at the same time, Loureen feels relieved when her husband is dead. She has suffered too much and for too long, and she feels “like a ton of bricks” has been lifted from her shoulders (Nottage 1110). Meanwhile, Florence considers that there is a ‘degree’ of suffering which one can stand, and she thinks that her limit has not been reached yet. She admits that “Edgar has never done [her] the way Samuel did [Loureen], but he sure did take the better part of [her] life” (Nottage 1112).
The two women agree on the opinion about friendship, and they cherish their relations despite their husbands’ interference and the fact that they forbid their wives to communicate. The offended Florence calls Loureen “you bitch!” when she reminds her of the “pact” they made about killing their husbands together “when things got real bad” (Nottage 1111). The woman is disappointed that her friend has betrayed their arrangement, even though Loureen’s actions were unintended. Friendship seems to mean much for females in such depressing living conditions. Both Loureen and Florence suffer ill-treatment and abuse from their husbands, so they understand one another keenly. Thus, after all, Florence relieves her disappointment and agrees to visit Loureen later to spend some time with her and make her feel better. Both characters admit that the generally accepted place of a wife in marriage is “the silent spot on the couch” and “a pleasant smile” warming the heart (Nottage 1111). However, both women consider this view wrongful and unfair.
Loureen and Florence are only two of many females who suffer from continuous negative attitude and abuse. In her play, Nottage employed humor to discuss complicated and dramatic issues prevailing in family life. Despite some minor differences in views, both characters have similar opinions on the role of wives in marriage and consider that husbands should be more supportive and less cruel. Fortunately, the play’s major theme does not have the same level of actuality now as it did at the time Nottage created it. However, everyone needs to be cautious of the negative aspects of marriage and husband-wife relationships to be able to prevent them. Loyal support and mutual understanding can serve as catalysts for improving people’s relationships and lives.
Nottage, Lynn. “Poof!” Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound & Sense, edited by Greg Johnson and Thomas R. Arp, 13th ed., Cengage Learning, 2017, pp. 1106-1112.