The Painted Door
The Painted Door
“No man is an island, entire of itself”. This quote from John Donne, states that no person could live there life without cn from people around them. They must live in an environment where they can communicate freely with someone even if it would be just one person; but what would happen to someone who does not receive or give proper communication? In the story, The Painted Door a wife named Ann lives in a deserted country side where communication with other people is hard to come by. Her husband, John, is the only person who she has by her side on a day to day basis, yet he does not put Ann as his first priority due to his obsession with working hard to pay of his debts. Due to this she feels as though she is locked out of society and resorts to secluding her own personal feelings from anyone around her. Even though she is unable to find the love that she once had for John she is able to see that Steven is able to provide her with the many necessities that John is unable to give her. Throughout the story, Ann struggles to find the love she once had for John causing her to break her bonds with him. She begins to break her bonds through lack of attention, Seclusion of personal feelings as well as finding new love in Steven.
Throughout the story Ann always talks bout how she is unable to receive the attention she desires and is simply not cared for by John. Due to her lack of social interaction within the environment she lives in she tries to seek attention from anyone. When talking to John just before he leaves for his father’s farm, Ann begs him to stay and keep her company yet he refuses to do so. “’It isn’t right to leave me here alone. Surely I’m as important as important as your father…[John] But there is nothing to be afraid of even if it does start to storm. You won’t need to go near the stable….I’ll be back at the latest by seven or eight’”,(Ross,288). Despite Ann’s plea for John to stay, she is completely ignored and all of John’s attention is focused on his father.
Instead of trying to comfort her he tries to change Ann’s mind by telling her that she will be alright even if the storm hits and that she does not even have to go outside and do any work. This shows how John does not take into consideration how scared Ann might be during the storm . Instead he puts the job of taking care of the farm into far greater priority evidently showing how Ann receives little to no attention at all from John. As a result of this Ann get put aside so that John can take care of his father. Later on in the story, as John is getting ready to leave he tells Ann how committed he is to get to his father’s house and brings up the past where he claims that he never missed helping his father every time he needed it. “’You ought to know by now I wouldn’t stay behind…no matter how it stormed. Twice a week before we were married I never missed and there were bad blizzards that winter to,’”(289). John has made it clear that he doesn’t intend on staying.
He shows Ann how committed he was to visit his father whenever he could even before he was married to her. His commitment to his father is far more important to him than staying at home to keep Ann company. Now Ann is certain that John’s care for her is very little in comparison to his father. Due to Ann’s lack of attention from John, Ann begins to break her bonds with John.
Ann believes that no one is truly there to give her the attention that she desires. John has set his eyes on helping his dad and refuses to stay no matter how much Ann begs of him. Due to this Ann tries to do the same and starts to seclude her own personal feelings from him in hopes of trying to get him to show the least bit of care for her. She does this by sarcastically telling him how all her needs have been met just as he is heading for the door. “’Yes – of course – I heard you…Plenty to eat – plenty of wood to keep me warm – what more could a woman ask for?’”,(288). Instead of directly telling him how she feels about him leaving, Ann makes this sarcastic comment in hopes of attaining some kind of sympathy from John however John responds trying to defend his father.“’But he’s an old man – living there all alone. What is it, Ann, you’re not like yourself this morning’”,(288).
Instead of getting John to care of her she causes a bit of tension between the two of them. She does the exact opposite of what she intended to do and begins to put distance between herself and John. When John finally leaves to go and help his father Ann begins to talk to herself showing how she truly feels about John. “’That’s all I need – someone to talk to. John never talks. He’s stronger – he doesn’t understand’”,(295). Ann begins to tell herself that all she needs is someone to talk to. Ann knows that John doesn’t need attention from anyone because “he’s stronger” but Ann knows that she isn’t “strong” like John is. Instead of addressing these problems directly with John she keeps these thoughts to herself. By doing this she is unable to tell John how she wishes to be treated allowing more room for John to ignore her true feelings. Through this Ann breaks her bond with John due to the shadowing of her personal feelings.
Although Ann hides her personal feelings from John she is not afraid to show her true colors as soon as Steven comes over. Steven is viewed by Ann as someone who can fill the gaps that John could not. He is someone who cares for her and is willing to give her the attention she wants in order to make her happy. Later on in the story Ann begins thinking to herself how Steven may not come to visit Ann. She makes herself believe that Steven would not come because he knows that John would come home to comfort his own wife in this gruesome storm. “It would be only natural for him to think that when the storm rose John had turned again for home. Another man would- would have put his wife first”,(295). However despite the treacherous storm raging outside, Steven comes to aid Ann in her time of need. Ann is is truly captivated by Steven’s determination and begins to find comfort in Steven. “At the assurance of his touch and voice the fear that had been gripping her gave way to an hysteria of relief. Scarcely aware of herself she seized his arm and sobbed against it”,(297).
Ann is so overjoyed by Steven’s arrival that she begins to cry in Steven’s arm. She is relieved of all the loneliness the storm had caused her and is able to find comfort in Steven, something she could never truly find in John. As Steven proceeds to do his chores Ann begins to analyze Steven more carefully. She begins to compare John and Steven in her mind. “Swiftly she was making comparisons again; his face so different to John’s, so handsome and young and clean-shaven. Swiftly, helplessly feeling imperceptible and relentless ascendancy that therby he was gaining over her, sensing sudden menace in this new, more vital life, even as she felt drawn towards it”,(Ross,298). Ann starts to accept now that she has fallen for Steven she is drawn towards this “new, more vital life” even if she feels that it puts her and John’s relationship in danger. By making these “swift” comparisons she is quickly able to see how much greater Steven is in comparison to John. Steven is able to pick up where John is unable to finish. He is able to provide to Ann the care she needs and so much more. Due to Ann immediate attraction to Steven she begins to break her bonds as she is drawn into this “new, more vital life” where she wishes to stay forever.
Ann was unable to find the love and care that she had been searching for in John. She had been given no attention despite the fact that she had needed so much of it from John. She found that John had not given much of a care to her feelings and therefore had begun to hide her own feelings from John. Although John was still not able to provide Ann with the basic love and care she needed from her husband she was able to find this love and care through Steven who provided her with exactly that and much more. Through these series of events, Ann’s bonds with John are broken as she approaches a new life that will provide her with the necessities she had been lacking in the previous one. She no longer has to seclude her personal feelings and she can now look forward to a new spring in which everything will blossom a new. She now does not have to worry about the lack of attention she will receive from John and no longer has to worry about John making it home in time. Now she can sit with Steven and enter into the new vital life that awaits