Marionettes, Inc.

by

Ray Bradbury

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Nettie Smith Character Analysis

Nettie Smith is Smith’s overly affectionate wife. According to Smith, Nettie constantly smothers him with hugs and kisses and rarely lets him out of her sight. Although Smith knows he should be grateful for Nettie’s loving nature, he also feels suffocated by his wife and longs for a little break from her—even just one night a month. However, at the end of the story, it’s clear that Nettie wanted a break from her husband, too, and purchased a marionette of her own. Smith’s repeated observation that Nettie has been even more affectionate than usual the past month suggests that he has been unknowingly living alongside a marionette for over a month—thus, the real Nettie doesn’t appear in the story whatsoever. When Smith realizes that the bulk of their money is gone, his first thought is that his wife gluttonously purchased several thousands of dollars’ worth of hats, handbags, and perfume, consequently depicting Nettie as thoughtless and vain. However, Smith’s second thought is that Nettie purchased—without permission—the small vacation home alongside the Hudson that she’s been talking about for months. This small detail feels similar to Braling’s desire to go to Rio, and his plan to buy a marionette to allow him to do so. This suggests that perhaps Nettie did the same thing, buying a marionette and running off to the place she’s been dreaming about that her husband has barred her from. In addition, Smith’s horror that Nettie did something without his permission implies that he is a domineering, controlling partner, and that perhaps the pair had an unhappy marriage.

Nettie Smith Quotes in Marionettes, Inc.

The Marionettes, Inc. quotes below are all either spoken by Nettie Smith or refer to Nettie Smith. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of Marionettes, Inc. published in 1949.
“Marionettes, Inc.” Quotes

“[I’m] married to a woman who overdoes it. I mean, after all, when you’ve been married ten years, you don’t expect a woman to sit on your lap for two hours every evening, call you at work twelve times a day and talk baby talk. And it seems to me that in the last month she’s gotten worse. I wonder if perhaps she isn’t a little simple-minded?”

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Braling, Nettie Smith
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

“Thank you […] You don’t know what this means. Just a little respite. A night or so, once a month even. My wife loves me so much she can’t bear to have me gone an hour. I love her dearly, you know, but remember the old poem: ‘Love will fly if held too lightly, love will die if held too tightly.’ I just want her to relax her grip a little bit.”

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Braling, Nettie Smith
Related Symbols: Business Card
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

“Really, you make me feel like a criminal. You have been such a good, loving wife. Sometimes it is impossible for me to believe you married me instead of that Bud Chapman you once liked. It seems that in the last month you have loved me more wildly than ever before.”

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Nettie Smith, Bud Chapman
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

And then, the horrid thought. And then the terror and the loneliness engulfed him. And then the fever and disillusionment. For, without desiring to do so, he bent forward and yet forward again until his fevered ear was resting firmly and irrevocably upon her round pink bosom. “Nettie!” he cried.

Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick.

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Nettie Smith
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:
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Marionettes, Inc. PDF

Nettie Smith Character Timeline in Marionettes, Inc.

The timeline below shows where the character Nettie Smith appears in Marionettes, Inc.. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“Marionettes, Inc.”
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
...exactly been roses” either, and Smith agrees. His problem, he asserts, is that his wife, Nettie, “overdoes it.” He remarks to Braling that after ten years of marriage, you’d think your... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
...He says all he wants is “a little respite,” even just once a month. Currently, Smith’s wife hates when he’s out of the house for even an hour. Even though he loves... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Braling says that Smith is actually fortunate—Nettie loves Smith too much, while Mrs. Braling simply hates Braling. Smith says the problem is... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
...wait. In just two months, his ribs will be healed from being constantly crushed by Nettie’s embrace. His hand will be healed from being constantly squeezed and held, and his bruised... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
...up, and Smith climbs on, humming as he does. He thinks about how he and Nettie have fifteen thousand dollars in their joint bank account. He can just “slip eight thousand... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith arrives at his house and wanders into his bedroom and finds Nettie—“pale, huge, and piously asleep.” He is overwhelmed by the sight of her “innocent face.” Softly,... (full context)
Control Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
...missing, leaving the couple with only five thousand dollars in their account. Immediately, Smith blames Nettie, yelling that she’s purchased “More hats, more clothes, more perfume.” He thinks she’s even purchased... (full context)
Control Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Smith runs back into the bedroom, yelling for Nettie to wake up explain what she’s done with his money. At first, Nettie doesn’t wake... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Control Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
...by “fever and disillusionment.” Although he doesn’t want to confirm his suspicion, he leans into Nettie and presses his ear against her chest. All he hears is “Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick.” (full context)