When both involved do not fully commit to the happiness of each other, a mismatched marriage may lead to discontent for all. Sinclair Ross’s short story, “The Painted Door”, deals with the growing dissatisfaction of a farmer’s wife, Ann, who feels alone as her husband struggles with the harsh conditions of the environment. Ann seeks comfort and companionship from Steven, the attractive friend of her husband, John. The responsibility for John’s death, a shocking result of Ann’s infidelity, lays both on Ann and John.
Though Ann plays no direct part in her husband’s death, her disloyal actions lead to the tragedy. Only Ann may be held responsible for her faithlessness in the marriage. Not suited for the life of a farm wife, Ann grows terribly lonely when left alone in their isolated house. Though she knows that “‘all farmer’s wives have to stay alone’” (369), she feels neglect in that John “never talks” (370). Out of respect for her husband’s hard work, Ann remains silent about her growing need for a companion rather than provider. In her restlessness, Ann seeks the fulfillment of these needs from Steven, instead of through direct communication with John. In taking advances to present herself in an attractive manner to Steven, Ann enters in to planned infidelity. These actions leave her solely responsible for the broken marriage.
Though responsibility for Ann’s affair cannot be placed on John, his misplaced efforts of affection lead to her feelings of discontent. As the hard working farmer that he is, John shows his love and commitment to Ann through his diligent care and provision for her. John hopes to give Ann a “new house and pretty clothes” (370) through his hard work; however, he neglects to see her longing for the time they might spend together now, rather than later. Though John takes interest and concern in his wife’s loneliness and need for company, he continues to demonstrate his love by hard work “done for her sake” (371),...
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