Ann’s motivation for the affair comes from a number of psychological theories and reasons. A big part of her wanting to cheat was because she was not satisfied with her and John’s sexual relationship and needed to give in to her Id. By sleeping with Steven, she was giving into her Id (desire for sex). Even though she was unhappy, she feared confrontation and would never actually say anything to John because she knows that he only works as hard as he does because he wants to provide for her.
This is part of the problem she is having – him working is leaving no time for them to enjoy their relationship. She had been making comparisons between her husband and Steven for the entire time that they had been married, and was always subconsciously lusting for him. Parapraxia; an accidental slip up that reveals inner thoughts/desires. While John is away, the thought of being with Steven is continually slipping into her mind. She catches her slip-ups, and then tries to convince herself otherwise even though her subconscious knows exactly what she really wants.
She is comparing John and Steven and revealing who and what she truly wants. “While John, she made the comparison swiftly, was thickest, heavy-jowled, and stooped. He always stood before her helpless, a kind of humility and wonderment in his attitude. And Stephen now smiled on her appraisingly with the worldly-wise assurance of one for whom a woman holds neither mystery nor illusion” (Ross 57). She has just made a direct comparison between her husband and Steven and revealed which characteristics she prefers.
For his presumption, his misunderstanding of what had been only a momentary weakness, instead of angering quickened her, roused from latency and long disuse all the instincts and resources of her femininity. She felt eager, challenged” (Ross 58). Her desires for Steven are appearing without her even being aware of it or trying to stop it right at that moment. “She was John’s wife – she knew – but also she knew that Steven standing here was different from John. There was no thought or motive no understanding of herself as the knowledge persisted” (Ross 58).
She has now realized the slip up, and attempts to correct herself right away – she reminds herself that she is John’s wife and her thoughts are not okay to be having. Id; desires for survival (especially food and sex). Ann has the desire for a sexual relationship with her husband, and is not getting it. This leads her to fulfill that desire that elsewhere – by having an affair with Steven. “Intending that it should be for only an instant, just to breathe again, to ease the tension that had grown unbearable – but in his smile now, instead of the insolent appraisal that she feared, there seemed a kind of warmth and sympathy.
An understanding that quickened and encouraged her – that made her wonder why but a moment ago she had been afraid. It was if the storm had lulled, as if she had suddenly found calm and shelter” (Ross 62). Her depression seemed to suddenly disappear because of Steven. She felt as if something had been fulfilled, and she already knew what was coming next. “Before they were worn out, before their best years were gone. It was something of life she wanted, not just a house and furniture; something of John, not pretty clothes when she would be too old to wear them.
But John of course couldn’t understand. To him it seemed only right that he, fit for nothing else, should slave away fifteen hours a day to give them to her” (Ross 51). In this quote, Ann is stating that she would rather have the satisfaction of a solid relationship with John, not just all of the things that he may be able to provide for her later in life. She wants to have a good life now, not later when he will be completely worn out. This is part of her Id, part of what she feels she needs to survive. Not that she meant or believed her words. It was just an effort to convince herself that she did have a grievance, to justify her rebellious thoughts, to prove John responsible for her unhappiness. She was young still, eager for excitement and distractions; and John’s steadfastness rebuked her vanity, made her complaints seem weak and trivial” (Ross 54). She is openly admitting her desires for something more, and speaks of the rebellious thoughts she is already having about Steven.
The more that she tries to deny her needs, the more they seem to surface. At the Ann feels guilty, and starts to realize that there was a consequence for her unfaithfulness. Ann’s cheating resulted in the death of her husband, and her guilt then begins to sink in. At the end of the story, her guilt really hits her – she realizes that the figure she thought was a dream was actually John coming back. This made her feel even worse because now she knows that her actions really did have a consequence.