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The Painted Door: Analyzing Anna's Character Guilt in John's Death

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The Painted Door: Analyzing Anna's Character Guilt in John's Death essay

The Painted Door is a short story written by Canadian author Sinclair Ross in 1941. The story is about a lonely farmer’s wife one winter, as her husband goes off for the day to check on his elderly father five miles away in the middle of a blizzard. But what is to blame for the sad ending to this story? In my opinion, I think that Ann is the reason that John had ended up the way he did.

Ann doubts John’s love for her throughout the story, because of the snow storm; wondering why he hasn’t gotten home yet. Her feeling about her marriage were clearly expressed on page two, and at the beginning of the third page, when Ross wrote, “And anyways, sometimes she asked herself , why sit trying to talk with a man who never talked? Why talk when there was nothing to talk about but crops cattle, the weather and the neighbours?”…. “But now, alone with herself in the winter silence, she saw the spring for what it really was. This spring -next spring- all the springs and summers still to come. While they grew old, while their bodies warped, while their minds kept shrivelling dry and empty like their lives.” Ann’s dissatisfaction for her marriage continues throughout the story, which is further proven when the author wrote, “Another man would have-would have put his wife first.” There is many other factual evidence in the story that proves that Ann wasn’t happy with her marriage; but she eventually realized that it wasn’t that she was unhappy with the her marriage, it was just that she had lost sight of what was important about it; well not until it was too late to matter.

After John’s best friend Stephen had arrived at the house, Ann and he had got talking about the storm and how it was very unlikely that John would be returning that night, seeing as how walking the little distance of one mile had been hard for Stephen to even think about traveling himself. It had taken little convincing for Stephen to assure Ann of these things, seeing as how she already saw Stephen as a nearly perfect man. Not soon after had Ann ended up having an affair with Stephen, then falling asleep with him still in the bed. After she has drifted to sleep Ann had awoken to the sight of flickering lights and thoughts of John. Though, she thought she was dreaming, when in reality John had really returned home. Only to find a sad surprise waiting for him in his bed, with his wife. Seeing his wife and his best friend in bed together, he immediately left the house. Which is when John got the paint smeared on his hand that came off of the door Ann had painted earlier in the day.

Ann’s justification for cheating on her husband was that she thought she was “in love” with Stephen, which she has been thinking about ever since they spent the night dancing at the schoolhouse. In the story, Ann goes about comparing John to Stephen, finding things that she liked better in Stephen. Some of the comparisons that Sinclair Ross had written about are on pages five and six. “His was handsome, clean-shaven, young. Her eyes were fanatic, believing desperately; fixed upon him as if to exclude all else, as if to find justification.”…. “For there had always been Steven. She understood now. Seven years – almost as long as John – ever since the night they first danced together.”

In conclusion, I think that Ann is the person to blame for John’s death because she doubted her husband’s love for her, which lead to her thinking that she is in love with her husband’s best friend which in the end caused her to have an affair. Although, it could also be said that Stephen is also to blame because he did sleep with best friend’s wife after all.

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The Painted Door: Analyzing Anna’s Character Guilt In John’s Death. (2019, January 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from
“The Painted Door: Analyzing Anna’s Character Guilt In John’s Death.” GradesFixer, 28 Jan. 2019,
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