The Yellow Wallpaper | Study Guide

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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The Yellow Wallpaper | Section 10 | Summary



The narrator is convinced that the woman behind the wallpaper's pattern gets out in the daytime because she can see her through the windows, creeping around outside. The narrator insists that she, herself, only creeps around when she is in her room, and no one can see. She wishes that John would sleep in a different room because "John is so queer now." Also, she would like to have the nursery to herself at night as well as by day.


The narrator reveals two disturbing physical actions that she engages in—ones that are not simply in her imagination: she creeps by daylight, and she turns around and around near the windows in order to see if she can see the creeping woman. What would Jennie or John think if they saw these actions happening? There is a clue—"John is so queer now"—in the section that implies that John is changing toward the narrator, as her behavior grows stranger. The story's structure plays with differences in perception between men and women and ideas about mental illness and normalcy: the reader knows more about the narrator than the other characters do, and the reader knows the narrator does not understand the other characters' reactions to her. It comes down to differing perceptions and a lack of understanding between parties. Again, this is making the point that perhaps the narrator has only grown ill because she has the type of mind—regardless of her gender—that needs to be engaged and intellectually stimulated.

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