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I am confused by the ending of The Yellow Wallpaper. Why did John faint and why is the...

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mcgeegm | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 15, 2012 at 5:12 AM via web

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I am confused by the ending of The Yellow Wallpaper. Why did John faint and why is the narrator having to creep over him all the time?

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kschweiz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted January 15, 2012 at 6:01 AM (Answer #1)

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By this point in the story, the narrator and main character has essentially lost her mind entirely. She has torn down most of the wallpaper and has, in her mind, "become" one of the women she believed she saw creeping around, trapped behind the pattern in the paper. There are several clues that she has started the creeping early in the story--the long "smooch" all around the room at the same level ("round and round and round--it makes me dizzy!") being one of them. She later states that her shoulder "just fits" in this smooch when she is creeping around the room.

John faints because he has been absent during the main of the room's destruction, and because he believed she was improving up to this point. When he returns home, she has locked the door, inciting panic because he does not know what she is doing. When he finally opens the door, he sees the wallpaper in shreds on the floor and his wife crouched, shoulder against the wall, slinking around the room. Her claim, "I've got out at last...in spite of you... And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" is ultimately what causes him to faint, likely because he has finally realized the extent of her madness. She believes she is the woman who she "saw" trapped in the paper.

Now, she is "forced" to creep over him because, in her madness, she has taken to the designated track around the room, and she cannot stop her creeping. He faints "right across [her] path by the wall" and this means that in order to continue on her way, she has to step over him.

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