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The Man Who Hugged Women

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The Man Who Hugged Women

Relationships can be based on a variety of backgrounds and emotions. Some are based on true love while others are less romantic and based more out of practical matters. These relationships can provide comfort and security if the two parties are approaching the relationship with the same expectations. But if one's approach is different from the other then the relationship will often seem and feel crooked and result in an unhealthy and unsustainable relationship. This is exactly what Mischa Hiller is trying to describe in her short story “The Man Who Hugged Woman”. The short story tells the story of two middle aged woman who both feels an absence of love and comfort and tries to solve it by consulting a man who specializes in the act of comforting woman, merely by hugging them.

The viewpoint character of the story is Freya, which means that the reader perceives everything through her eyes and thoughts - in spite of the 3rd person perspective. She is a middle aged woman and is married to the psychiatrist, Mukesh, with whom she has a daughter, who attends university. Freya is a volunteer at a local school, and it is therefore clear that Mukesh is the main breadwinner of their household. Mukesh also seems to be the one in the family with the most authority and control, for instance “Freya had once suggested to Mukesh that [their daughter] might be better off doing something else other than going to university but had been shut down pretty sharpish and she’d never mentioned it again, instead colluding with him to push her daughter unhappily down a predetermined path”. Though it is made clear that Freya loves her husband, this lets us know that there also is an obvious discord between them and that Mukesh’s rigour and seriousness causes Freya to become frustrated, and almost resentful. She secretly longs for a more spontaneous and passionate love, than what her husband is providing her with.

It is very apparent that we are dealing with a serious woman, the voice of rationality and common sense in her relationship with Pearl. “The truth was she would love to be a bit more like Pearl”, more outgoing and less rigid when interacting with others. However, just like in the case of Pearl, the reader finds out that there is more than meets the eye in what her attitude is concerned. As the story progresses we learn that Freya is a fragile woman, who craves the sense of security. Her husband does not provide her with the same sense of security that she so greatly longs for. When Pearl first describes the guru, she mentions that other women had said he felt safe - “like hugging your dad.” This strikes a chord with Freya, who suddenly remembers how wonderful it had been like, being held by her own father. She recalls the safe feeling of “a sense of masculine protection. No, not protection, care. Of being held without any expectation of anything in return.”

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