Character Analysis Mrs. Julia Gibbs and Mrs. Myrtle Webb


These women function in a role similar to that of Doc Gibbs in that they flesh out the picture of the small town. Involved in motherhood roles of getting their children fed and off to school, they relax, share the chore of stringing beans, and discuss Mrs. Gibbs' desire to sell her grandmother's highboy and use the money for a trip to Paris. Both belong to the Congregational Church choir, and both are concerned over the organist's alcoholism.

Wilder offers no more description of these women than he does for any of the other characters. Mrs. Webb is simply "a thin, crisp woman " The playwright takes advantage of stereotyping the women in order to comment that the average woman living in a small town is healthy. "They brought up two children apiece, washed, cleaned the house . both of those ladies cooked three meals a day — one of 'em for twenty years, the other for forty — and no summer vacation . and never a nervous breakdown " Thus, Wilder implies that small town life is healthful.

As parents, both women take an interest in nutrition and good health practices, such as proper chewing of food and firm posture. Mrs. Gibbs nags Doc Gibbs about working without adequate rest. Mrs. Webb declares, "I'd rather have my children healthy than bright " On the day of the wedding, Mrs. Gibbs insists that George wear overshoes, and Mrs. Webb insists that Emily eat her breakfast.

In the end, Mrs. Gibbs plays a fuller role as mother in that she serves as a protective spirit when Emily first arrives among the dead. Mrs. Gibbs learns that her $350 legacy helped make George and Emily's farm a success, but her primary interest as a spirit is in helping Emily develop the patience to look forward to what comes next.