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What is the meaning or symbolism behind the painting of the door in "The Painted...

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rn20yr | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 11, 2012 at 6:25 AM via web

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What is the meaning or symbolism behind the painting of the door in "The Painted Door"?

symbolism, theme

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 13, 2012 at 2:47 AM (Answer #1)

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The bedroom door is a symbol of Anne and John’s marriage.  Anne paints the door to forget that she is in a lonely, loveless marriage.  The paint symbolizes Anne’s fidelity

When John is out, Anne decides it is a good time to paint the bedroom door so she won’t have “time to brood.”  She is left alone all day, but she tells herself that all farmer’s wives are alone all day and she needs to get over it.  She has been putting off painting, waiting for “warmer weather” just as she is waiting for things to get better in her marriage.

Anne tries to keep herself busy so she does not think about her feelings.

She moved briskly, performing each little task with careful and exaggerated absorption, binding her thoughts to it, making it a screen between herself and the surrounding snow and silence.

Her thoughts are “[eager] and hopeful first; then clenched, rebellious, lonely.”  Like Anne, John throws himself into his work.  He has a “simple mind” and does not seem to understand her.

There was in his devotion a baffling, insurmountable humility that made him feel the need of sacrifice.

As long as he sacrifices for her sake, he is doing his part in the marriage.  He is devoted, so her thoughts are useless.  In the wintertime, when they are not both busy with work, they have nothing to do but think about their loveless marriage.

When her husband does not come home, and Steven comes over, Anne cheats on John with him.  There is no passion in the infidelity.  Steven is “sane” but not ardent.  When they find John, he has paint on his hand.  He saw her with Steven, and went back out into the storm.  He did not interrupt them.  He know his wife cheated on him, and he let her.

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