Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Anita  Shreve

Katherine  Willard 
The Relationship of John and Abigail Adams

Anita Shreve: Loss of Innocence and Dehumanization

Abigail Smith and John Adams were married in 1764; this was the foundation of a relationship extraordinary in its time. John and Abigail Adamís marriage was strong and lasting because they shared intellectual ideals, devotion to family, and a sense of duty to their country. Both John and Abigail valued education and speaking their mind. They were strong willed and very honest with each other. The couple created a support and advisory system for each other during their long separations. John and Abigail were also very supportive and loving to their family. Their children often acted as a cement to their relationship. Many challenges in their relationship stemmed from Johnís responsiblities in politics. John Adams was the first vice president and the second president of the United States, which required long absences from home. Their letters were an expression of love and support while they were miles away from each other. John and Abigail developed a resilience to withstand their separations and were widely known for their strong partnership.The support, love and devotion that John and Abigail had for each other helped them serve their country.

Like John and Abigail, many characters in Antita Shreveís novels endure struggles in their relationships. Each of her stories focuses on the themes of dehumanization and the subsequent loss of innocence and the harsh realties that these losses have on those who survive them. In Strange Fits of Passion, Shreve depicts Harrold and Maryís destructive marriage. Initially, Mary perceives herself as a victim often hiding the violence from others. Her husbandís dehumanizing abuse destroys the innocence of their seemingly idyllic marriage. Eventually, Mary realizes her own resilience and stands strong against Harrold, escaping their abusive lifestyle. After enduring physical and emotional abuse from her husband, Mary murders him. Ironically, in order to survive Mary is convinced that she must destroy Harrold.

Major Works Consulted:

Holton, Woody. Abigail Adams: A Life. New York: Free, 2009.
McCullough, David. John Adams. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008.
Shreve, Anita. Resistance. London: Little, Brown, 1995.
---. Strange Fits of Passion: A Novel. London: Harvest, 2005.
Photo Credit: Shreve, Anita. Resistance. London: Little, Brown, 1995.