Ann Beattie

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In the short story “Janus”, by Ann Beattie, the central character is not a real character at all, but in fact is an inanimate object.   The cream colored ceramic bowl serves as the main character throughout the story, and is correlated to the Roman God “Janus” that is identified primarily with doors or other places of passage, and is also represented as being two faced.   Janus is one of two characters with names, which is also evident of her importance throughout the story.   The author uses the character of Andrea to give life to Janus through discussing the bowls importance to her.   In many cases the primary character of a story is simply an object that is symbolic of an ideal or underlying meaning through which the author uses to convey their message.  Throughout the story Beattie uses the bowl in many ways to convey different meanings to the reader.   In the beginning, its sole purpose in the story is simply a tool that Andrea uses to sell houses.   She places the bowl in homes she is trying to sell, along with house plants and even her dog at times.   There is a strong connection made between Andrea and her bowl, and it becomes evident that Janus means much more to her than just an aesthetically pleasing piece of ceramic art.   When Andrea is trying to sell a home, she essentially tricks people into buying them by creating these setups where she brings in her own props.  Beattie also uses the bowl to show the weak relationship between Andrea and her husband.   There are times when it is clearly obvious that Andrea cares more about the bowl than she does her own husband.   It is implied when she wakes up in the morning next to him and feels guilty; it is understood as her feeling guilty for her deeper connection to the bowl, and almost as a betrayal to her husband.   There is no passion in their relationship, they simply get along fine and live together.   Janus reveals another aspect of their relationship that is nonexistent, “She had asked her husband to...
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