What did Annie do to keep unwanted people away from her house?

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In chapter 5, Annie tells Paul that she keeps her house looking “nice” because otherwise “the neighbors would yap.” She tells him this when she sees him looking out the window at her barn, which he describes as a “neat and tidy structure” which looks like “the five-car garage of a well-to-do county squire.” Paul also sees, in front of the barn, “a Jeep Cherokee, maybe five years old but obviously well cared for,” and a plow “in a home-made wooden cradle.” Altogether, Annie’s house appears very normal and, as such, remains deliberately inconspicuous to neighbors and passersby.

In other words, Annie keeps people away from her house by making sure that her house appears ordinary, respectable, and otherwise unremarkable. As she says to Paul, “Keeping up appearances is very, very important.” This is also a principle that she applies to her own appearance. She always wears a gray cardigan sweater, for example, and, as Paul puts it, “an endless succession of wool skirts.” In this way she, like her house, looks inconspicuous, and she, like her house, doesn’t attract attention.

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