Cathy Whitaker seems to lead the quintessential life of a 1950’s housewife with her maid, Mrs. Magnatech title, her two children and successful businessman husband, Frank. Cathy is depicted as a”happy go lucky” mother to her husband, even when she discovers his homosexuality. Although Frank lashes out at Cathy, constantly yelling at her and eventually slapping her in the face, Cathy still manages to maintain her composure and refer to Frank as “darling”. During this time period woman, such as Cathy, were the property of their husbands. They had no bank accounts, no domestic laws to protect them and much more. This meant lack of personal freedom.
On the exterior Cathy might seem like she has her whole life together, however on the inside she is yearning to find authenticity. As Cathy meets her black gardner Raymond and discovers more about him, the greater her desire to find herself becomes. When Raymond and Cathy go to the restaurant in their town of Hartford Connecticut, Raymond states, “This is a very welcoming place.” Ironically, both the white woman in the car judges the interracial friends as well as the black workers in the restaurant. This shows that the level of openness in both black and white communities was limited.
As the rumors about the two fly around town, Cathy loses her closest friend, husband and new friend Raymond. Although Cathy was able to stand up for herself when on the phone with Frank by saying “You could never remember my car pool days,” it lasted for only a brief period of time. Frank continues on with his life with a man and Raymond is able to escape from Hartford to Baltimore. Yet Cathy still remains boxed in a community filled with the closed-minded upper class.
When WWII was over, the 1950s began; it seemed like the last age of innocence. Families sat together for dinner every night, mothers took care of the children, and fathers went to work. It seemed like a perfect era, however life was repressive and constrictive in many ways. Women fulfilled certain roles as mothers, and as wives. A woman was considered a “good wife” only if she carried out her husbands every need and order. Cathy Whitaker is a perfect example. Even though she learns her husband is interested in the other sex, she doesn’t cause chaos but simply takes him to the doctor to be cured, and goes on running errands. Even if she wanted to voice an opinion, no man would listen due to their total dominance and inequality.
Cathy fell in love with the car insurance guy because he was a man who knew how she felt and what she was going through, which rarely happened. Women were the most trapped in the 50s, even though they were living good lives. Everyday seemed like a routine, and a type of show to make their hard working, cheating husbands happy.
Far From Heaven uses Raymond Deagan to reflect the black American struggle during the 1950’s. The contrasting relationships between him and Cathy Whitaker as well as him and white society as a whole, reflect this theme of ‘authenticity in isolation’ that finds itself spilled over the era. Their ability to find themselves in each other, what seems to be the tip of a romantic relationship, shows that Cathy, Mrs. Magnatech herself, the WASP incarnate, is not offended by the idea of equality and friendships between blacks and white. White society as a whole, however, lashes back when a group of schoolboys throw rocks at Raymond’s daughter, who is knocked unconscious.
Raymond understands the consequences of their relationship. Though their interracial platonic relationship harms no one, it tears away from the normal spectrum that the 1950’s has molded for society. It is surprising that though Cathy can keep her husband’s homosexuality a secret till their divorce, she can’t do the same with her friendship with Raymond. Unlike homosexuals, black Americans cannot hide their identity behind a wife and two kids, and white supremacist society uses this to its advantage. Raymond is more cultured and tamed then most of the white men and women in the town, yet he is seen as an animal, having rocks thrown through his windows for befriending a white woman, not by racist whites, but by racist blacks. Raymond is trapped by whites and blacks, loses his job, and has to move to Baltimore because he and his daughter can be at peace where their past in unknown.
A maid, a husband who is in charge of a big corporation, two beautiful kids, and a nice sized suburban house, one would say that Mrs. Mangnatech’s life is picture perfect. However, that is far from the case. Director Todd Haynes, depicts how tied up Cathy is from living an authentic life when her husband Frank walks in early from work with a full glass of whisky asking her, “is it true what I have heard.” This was referring to when one of her pretentious friends gossiped about her getting lunch with Frank on his side of town. With out hesitation she responded, “of course not Frank.” She is unable to defend her self to anyone at this point in the film. Although it seems as if she is at her peek of comfort when around Frank, Cathy was unable to stand up to her husband because she is living under his establishment. Cathy not only has her struggling homosexual husband to stand up to whom is the least of her fears at this point. Her wasp friends live to hear the next big news to spread, destroying or making one acceptable to society. With all her hiding and keeping her emotions in to keep her facade all perfect, Cathy ends up with no one at the end of the film.
When Cathy Whitaker finds out that her husband is staying late at work again, she decides to bring his dinner to him, only to find him swapping spit with another guy. Unable to process what she sees, she runs away and Frank is left to deal with problem: not knowing how to deal with his homosexuality.
In the 1950s, in an affluent society, homosexuality was treated as a medical problem often dealt with obscure medical processes or punishment. Frank is placed in a predicament because of his interest in men. To deal with his “disease”, he visits a doctor, Dr. Bowman, and he is determined to be treated so he can get his life back, his “normal” life. He mentally abuses himself due to the fact that he can’t find the attraction that he once possessed for his wife which causes him to be violent and introverted.