In “Janus,” is Andrea “two-faced,” as her ex-lover says? How does the bowl suggest that she is or isn’t?

In Ann Beattie's “Janus,” Andrea was certainly two-faced in the past when she was having an affair and hiding it from her husband. Even though that is over, she is still split in her life, longing for something more and fearing to lose her current status. The bowl may symbolize the kind of life Andrea wishes she had.

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In “Janus” by Ann Beattie, we could make a case that Andrea is indeed “two-faced” now and certainly has been in the past. For one thing, she once had a lover, the lover who bought her the bowl that stands at the center of the story. This in itself is a two-faced situation, for her husband didn't know about her lover. Andrea was living a double life. She did choose her husband in the end, and her lover left her.

Yet Andrea's fascination with the bowl continues. Perhaps it, in a way, symbolizes the lost lover and reminds her how two-faced she had been during her relationship with him. Yet in another way, perhaps it symbolizes a life Andrea wishes she had, a life that is both beautiful and nondescript, both eye-catching and non-fussy. That is what the bowl is. It is both valuable and appealing and comfortable and reassuring. It is, in essence, two-faced but in a positive sense, a sense that perhaps Andrea wishes she could attain.

Further, Andrea seems to still feel a split in her life. She is a successful realtor and seems to be at least relatively happily married (although the fact that she once had an affair suggests some level of discontent), yet something appears to be missing in her life. She is insecure and still carrying a secret from her husband, namely her growing superstitions about the bowl. There is a longing in Andrea that she does not quite understand, as well as a fear that she cannot quite express. She is still two-faced in a way as she goes about her life, as she longs for something more and fears to lose what she has.

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