What is Mr. Duffy's life like in "A Painful Case"? How did his refusal of Mrs. Sinico's advance lead to her demise? Is it ironic that a refusal to engage in adultery lead to tragedy?

Mr. Duffy's life is rather black and white, and quite solitary. He does not really like to mix with other people because relationships can be so messy. When he refuses Mrs. Sinico's affection and ends their relationship, she evidently grows desperate and hopeless, feeling loved by no one. This leads to her suicide. Because we would typically expect tragedy to come of immoral behavior like adultery, it does seem ironic that tragedy results from Mr. Duffy's seemingly moral choice.

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Mr. Duffy's life is quite solitary. He prefers to keep to himself and not "entangle" his life with anyone else's. His furniture is almost completely black and white in color, and this seems to be symbolic of how he likes to live; he does not care for figurative gray areas and prefers everything be kept neat, with clear boundaries. As a result, he doesn't do or feel much of anything.

Mr. Duffy's refusal of Mrs. Sinico's affectionate advances leads to her demise because, as he learns later from the news story about her death, she began drinking heavily shortly afterward, and this eventually led to her suicide. She must have lost hope after he rejected her, as we know that her husband doesn't really show much interest in her anymore. The narrator reports that Captain Sinico "had dismissed his wife so sincerely from his gallery of pleasures that he did not suspect that anyone else would take an interest in her." When Mr. Duffy also dismissed her, she must have succumbed to depression and desolation.

It is somewhat ironic that Mr. Duffy's refusal to participate in an adulterous affair with Mrs. Sinico led to tragedy, as we would most likely expect tragedy to come of illicit behaviors rather than as a rejection of it. It turns out that this adulterous relationship would be Mr. Duffy's only opportunity to have a loving relationship at all, and his refusal to get involved in something that seemed so messy to him, emotionally, results in both Mrs. Sinico's eventual death and his permanent exclusion from "life's feast."

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