Domestic abuse is something that we're only just finding the right discourse to talk about. For too often "victim blaming" has been present here, by means of people suggesting that the victim somewhat brings it upon themselves because they stay with the perpetrator. However, in The Letter, Hughes shows the other side of this discussion: what do you do if the person you loved isn't who you thought they were, or want them to be? Tina, the protagonist of the story suffers greatly at the hands of her domineering husband, whose alcoholism sends him into fits of paranoid rage. What the reader begins to realise is that Tina isn't simply foolish for leaving him, but terrified too. When Tina and Rick marry he begins to hit her upon occasion, but convinces her that if she didn't provoke him it wouldn't happen. As well as this, he is so apologetic and seemingly filled with love after he does it that she believes in her hopes: that he's changed, and it won't happen again. I think this is an incredibly important text for anyone to read if they've ever considered why the victim of an abuser would stay in a relationship filled with pain.
Tina just wants Rick to love her like he did before they were married. But since their marriage night he's beaten her so badly that she's ended up in hospital. She wants to escape, but how can she? She needs the man she loves, especially is she's right, and there's a little one along the way. Surely he'll become the loving man he once was now, right?
Desperate to think about something else and needing an escape from everything, Tina is intrigued when she finds a letter in the jacket a man donated to the charity shop she works from. It's from a man named Billy, dedicated to his lover Chrissie, apologising for the mistakes he's made and swearing that he will do right for her. The only problem is it has no postmark: the letter was never sent. Tina feels the need to reunite the letter with its rightful owner. This search takes Tina to places she'd never imagined, and might just have the potential to turn her life upside down ....
Have you read it? What did you think?