Throughout the short story “The Painted Door” the main character, Ann, resembles a selfish, frustrated, unhappy and insecure character with a weak personality. She faces some problems with both herself and John, her husband. They do not have a very healthy relationship which leads to John’s suicidal death in the end. John is a simple farmer who thinks the only way he can please Ann is by working all day to earn money for her. However Ann would prefer him to spend more time with her, which is a typical housewife demand. That shows her main character trait: selfishness.
She is being unfair to him because she wants him to stay next to her all the time while he wants to go work and make money. Once, John goes to his father’s house, leaving Ann home alone, where her feelings of isolation, desperation, fear, rebelliousness, and unhappiness consume her, bringing out her true character. Ann is the most to blame for her depression, her affair with Steven, and John’s suicide. Although John does not pay much attention to Ann, it is Ann’s fault because she never tells John that she wants to spend more time with him instead of him working.
Ann brings her depression upon herself because she hides her feelings from John so they can never resolve them. Ann tries to distract her mind by painting the door, this symbolizes the desperation that she suffers from because she feels an urgent need to fill the sense of emptiness, regret and loneliness that appears to be overtaking her life. She is weak, both emotionally and physically; she feels sorry for herself. By continually trying to convince herself that John is the reason for her unhappiness, she is searching for a way out, a way to try and resolve her rebellious thoughts and pessimistic outlook on life.
Steven is who she turns to for comfort, which helps her feel young and rejuvenated again. Although Ann is not extremely attractive, she is of average appearance, enough to attract the attention of Steven. The fact that she had put on a different dress and tidied her hair tells us that deep down inside she already knew what was going to happen. A multitude of emotions go through Ann’s mind, but she eventually gives in to Steven’s appeal, and “sleeps” with him.
After the deed is done, Ann sees Steven for what he really is because he feels no guilt, and she realizes too late that John has been the one all along. While standing there watching Steven sleep, Ann is filled with emotions of sadness and fear, but mostly an overwhelming feeling of guilt. The need for happiness and companionship engulfed her to the point of adultery, and it was only then that she truly realized what was important in her life, and that person was John. She regrets what she had done and she realizes that she loves her husband the way he is.
The next day when John’s dead body is found surprisingly close to the house, Ann finds the smear of white paint on her dead husband’s hand. The paint could represent the feeling of hopelessness, regret and hurt that he must have felt after seeing Ann and Steven in bed together. If Ann had simply had more communication with her husband instead of bottling her feelings inside, this entire event could have been resolved in a quick and easy manner. Instead, her weak personality got the better of her, and unfortunately was the one who John paid the price.