Meanwhile, anyone who wants to comment, have at it! You provided some excellent insight in yesterday's replies.
Okay, here goes. Book 1, "I've Got the One-More-Washload Blues": Elly's mother tells her, "We've always been sorry you didn't finish university before getting married." We also find out that Elly majored in English. Later, she makes noises about getting a part-time job, so John takes her on as an assistant when Jean takes a week's vacation. And yes, there is a strong sense that she feels if she doesn't work, she's helping keep women in the Stone Age.
Book 2, "Is This 'One of Those Days', Daddy?": Elly gets offended when John buys a $2000 stereo system and justifies it by saying "It's my money". John gets offended when Elly's "night school course is over for the summer" and she goes out without him. (Funny thing is, that's the first time night school is mentioned.)
Elly gets further offended when Ted comes to dinner and compliments John on how good a wife Elly is. Says Elly: "Do you really think women were put on this earth to serve men? We are EQUALS! If I cook and clean it's because I choose to do so -- not because I am subservient!" Ted to John: "You didn't tell me she was 'one of those'."
And we get to see Elly in night school, taking a course in creative writing. "It feels so good to be doing something, thinking again! Accepting a challenge! At last I'm picking up the education I missed. Just wish I knew what I'm going to do with it!"
Book 3, "It Must Be Nice to Be Little": Elly is nervous about her English exam. John reassures her, telling her, "You've worked hard -- and I have tremendous faith in you!...Then again, if you flunk out, it's no big deal." And again, he sulks when she goes out with her classmates without him. Afterwards, Elly tells little Lizzie, "Mommy has her first year English! [thinking] It's nice to talk to someone who doesn't ask 'Now what?'."
Elly puts Lizzie in playcare so she can work for the weekly paper. John is aghast to find that it pays nothing (thus not offsetting the cost of playcare) and asks, "What are you gaining?" Elly: "My sanity." Later, Elly tells Annie, "[John] doesn't care how liberated I get. As long as I'm home by 6." She also points out that she's been working for free for years, and this new position will enable her to "try skills I haven't used in ages...like talking to grownups." (FTR, Elly's column is entitled "Library Corner".)
John discusses this with Jean, saying, "Elly's all excited about this 'job', as she calls it...But I guess she has to get out there and do her bit to prove herself, heh heh!" Jean: "Be careful what you say about working women, Doc...I'm one of them!" Meanwhile, Lizzie is less than ecstatic in playcare, and Elly feels guilty.
Book 4, "Just One More Hug": Elly asks the editor of the paper if she can get paid, at least enough to cover the cost of playcare and gas for her car. She settles for a free subscription and a parking sticker. (Editor to Elly: "Can one really assess the value of our gratitude?")
The family visits The Farm, where Elly becomes the first of the Patterson women be empowered by driving the combine. Uncle Danny justifies her ability to drive it safely on the grounds that "What's out there to hit?" Elly revels in a task where "You don't even have to think!" just before the hired hand tells her "You kin come outa there now, little lady -- this is MEN'S work!" Back home, John tells Elly, "It was nice to see you working for a change!" Elly is insulted, while John insists it was a joke.
Phil and Georgia move in together. Elly is outraged: "If I'd told the folks I was moving in with John before we were married, I'd have been disowned!" She blames this on Phil being male, while he (and John) claim it's because he's younger and times have changed.
Lizzie messes up the bathroom fooling around with Elly's makeup kit. "It was an accident!" -- "Why did I ever have KIDS?" -- "Daddy says it was an accident."
Elly joins an aerobics class with Connie. She also gets hired at the library, for a paying job, thus justifying the newspaper job as a stepping-stone. John is okay with this because Elly's salary will cover the mortgage, and refers to her last days before the job begins as "two days of freedom," while the kitchen is in chaos. And he gets petulant because he has to wait to get into the bathroom in the morning, and make his own lunch. Jean is unsympathetic.
Elly is excited about the job: "It's like a whole brand new door opening up!" John: "I guess I'm jealous. I used to like working...once." Later, she waxes enthusiastic to Connie about how helpful John is being. "I'm telling you, he's wonderful!" -- "You should be telling him!"
Okay, that's enough for now. I'll continue in another post.