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The Painted Door: A Critical Response

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1. Character a. Ann – John and Ann have been married for seven years. Although it may seem after that many years of marriage, the spouses would have great communication with one another, but that isn’t what it seems to be. Ann feels desperate and isolated in what seems to be an unhappy marriage. Ann is labelled as the temperamental and unsatisfied farmer’s wife. In the story, Ann is very selfish and feels no one is ever there for her, which leaves her vulnerable and desperately wanting company. While John is away, his friend Steven drops by to keep Ann accompanied. As time passes, Ann is convinced by Steven that John will not be returning due to the wicked blizzard. Ann compares Steven to John and becomes very attracted to Steven’s handsome looks. As John plans on spending the night, Ann gives in to the temptation and then crawls in to bed with him because she is exceedingly lonely.

John –In the early stage of their marriage, John’s obligation is to take on his farming duties without any help just to prove his devotion to Ann. John also wanted a mortgage-free farm, a new house and pretty clothes for Ann, but Ann disapproved. John tried his best to keep Ann happy; however, Ann doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Their marriage has neither communication nor happiness. This leaves John bewildered. One day John was to walk five miles just to help his old father, Ann moodily began to act selfish. John wanted to reassure her that she will be fine, but she would lash sarcastic comments and showed no support of his walk. John also wanted to make sure Ann would be safe and have some company while he was out helping his father with chores, so he dropped in at his friend Stevens place on the way to nicely ask him to drop in later in the evening for a game of cards, and of course to check up on Ann.

Steve – Steve is John’s friend in the story. Steven plays more of the shady friend of John’s. When Steve arrives to check up on Ann, it was as if he knew Ann needed affection and he thought he could please her in a way John couldn’t. He seems to have cruel intentions of getting in to bed with Ann as soon as he arrives to John and Ann’s house. Steve wants this to happen and he continually reminds Ann that John will not be returning home in the monstrous snow storm.

b. Ann makes the choice to cheat on her husband John, with Steven. She does this because she is extremely bored and lonely in her marriage of seven years, and can’t resist the temptation of letting herself loose with Steven. Ann craves for love and affection. She feels John cannot give that to her so she leans toward Steven.

John wants to keep his marriage together. It seems that he puts his wife and father ahead of himself. This shows because John is dedicated to maintain the farm duties independently just to please his wife and that he would walk five miles in a snow storm to help his father with chores. John is the type of person to not realize that Ann is unhappy with their marriage; he is more of bewildered person.

Steve can be seen as the shady friend. Steve see’s right through Ann and senses her weakness. It is without a doubt that Steve is not trustworthy. It is as if Steve knows that he is able to take advantage and come between Ann and John’s marriage. He is motivated to pull this move because he knows that it would be easy to attract Ann.

c. The day after Ann and Steven’s scandalous affair, it is reported that John’s body was found frozen in the snow storm. On John’s hand was a dab of white paint, which leaves Ann realizing that John secretly walked in on Steven and Ann but he decided to let them be and continued his journey back out into the storm.

2. Conflict

a. Character vs. Self

Ann tends to struggle with communicating her feelings with her husband John, which accounts for the failing of their marriage because John cannot cater her needs. She blames John for not being there for her, but John shouldn’t only be the blame. In order for their relationship to work, the both of them should’ve communicated more and love each other equally.

3. Point of View

a. The narrator creates imagery in the mind giving us Ann’s thoughts and feelings very descriptively. In reference to the text, the narrator says “the sudden, maniac raging of the storm struck from her face all its pettishness.” Coming from a third person limited point of view the story is more like a news reporter giving us every detail from Ann’s perspective. It reinforces my understanding a bit more by knowing how Ann feels as an isolated farm wife. A lot of the story is based on Ann’s dreadfulness of being alone, her constrained movements, her brooding thoughts about her loveless marriage, the temptation of wanting to satisfy her wants with Steven.

b. I thought that John was really innocent and didn’t deserve Ann.

4. Setting

a. The setting is described to have taken place during winter season, in a prairie farmland. The era is typically in the nineteenth century.

b. The winter seems to carry an effect on Ann, which makes her dread the long boring winters and leaves her longing for the spring. The cold winter season could represent the cold dark feeling she has about her marriage. The storm has a huge effect on John, which is the cause of his death.

5. Irony

a. Irony is incorporated into the story when you would expect Steven to be a good friend to support Ann and John’s marriage, but instead he was more of the shady person to betray his friend John. From the moment Steven arrived, he did show courtesy for Ann, but it seemed like he knew what was to happen that night because of Ann’s vulnerability.

b. Irony seems to have an effect on the story in a way that you

6. Symbols

i. Paint – “Since November now the paint had been waiting warmer weather.”

ii. Fire – “She was putting in a fire now, and he could no longer see her face.”

iii. Snow – “-stood looking across the snow swept farmyard to the huddle of stables and sheds.”

iv. Storm – “I just wanted to make sure he’s all right in case we do have a storm.”

v. Clock – “The fire crackled and the clock ticked.”

b. The snow symbolizes Ann’s depression. Cold is obviously associated with snow, which is how Ann feels about the cold. In reference to the text, Ann says “Wad something along the window sills to keep out the drafts. Then I’ll feel brighter. It’s the cold that depressed.” The depression is resulted from Ann’s isolation and she is always trying to fix it. A lot of the times in the story the snowy cold drafts creep through the window sill and makes Ann feel even more depressed.

The clock symbolizes Ann’s mood. Ann’s mood is reflected upon her relationship. She dreads John going on that walk to see his father. As the clock ticks, Ann begins to brood. Her movements seem to be precise and her posture self-conscious as if John is going to turn back and return to the house to keep her accompanied. She is extremely temperamental as time passes and claims that she only need’s someone to talk to, but “John never talks, ties stronger-he doesn’t understand.” It is as if the clock forces these thoughts in Ann’s head while she is alone in the house, leaving her very moody and stubborn.

7. Theme

I would suggest that the theme of the story would be boredom. Boredom is represented in a way that Ann, the main character, was unsatisfied with her lifeless marriage. Being bored with her marriage eventually lead her to get out of hand and commit a sin.

8. Title

The title makes me think back to when Ann was painting the woodwork. It could hold a meaning that while Ann was painting the door she reflected upon the last seven years of her marriage. I say this because she was so upset that John left and being alone in a house while painting could lead to in-depth thinking.

As the reader, The Painted Door could also express the fact that Ann wanted something new in life, so she decided to try something new, in other words, having an affair with Steven. The term ‘paint’ could also be known to cover up something old and leave a fresh new beginning.

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