An in-depth analysis of the themes of loneliness and alienation in the story “The Painted Door” by Sinclair Ross
Date Submitted: Jan 4, 2010
Disguised as nothing more than bizarre diction, Sinclair Ross is able to bring the reader into the world of “The Painted Door”. Throughout the story is a multitude of hidden messages which are only made clear through further analysis. Many of these hidden messages emphasize loneliness and alienation and can be seen from Ross’s usage of imagery, the way the betrayal of John was portrayed, and the mood of the story.
“The Painted Door” relies heavily on imagery to emphasize its point of loneliness. From the beginning of the story ...view middle of the document...
By associating both the Earth and the sky with words like chilled and snow-swept, Ross has left Ann nowhere to run. Ross is stating that the entire world to Ann feels lonely. Examples such as these two are observed throughout the entire story. Ross purposely did this in order to emphasize loneliness. When one is lonely, one’s mind will tend to wander off. The repetition of paradoxical terms symbolize a lonely person’s drifting mind, and in this case, Ann’s. It is also notable that loneliness is most commonly associated with fear. In this case it is the fear of being alone, and fear of dying alone. This can be seen Ross describes “The frost in the walls on a day like this would crack and peel it as it dried, but she needed something to keep her hands occupied, something to stave off the gathering cold and loneliness.” When the words “crack” and “peel” are together, the idea that is associated with these two words is that of the old or elderly. This shows Ann’s true fear of loneliness and her fear or being alone for the rest of her life. Although she is in a loving and committed relationship with John, she is unable to appreciate him for who he is. This shows the reader more about Ann and her personality, and suggests that perhaps Ann is not totally grateful for her husband. Although she tells herself that she is, it is suggested that somewhere in her subconscious, Ann regrets marrying John. The use of imagery allows the reader to easily develop a relationship towards Ann. It is through this relationship which allows the reader to understand loneliness as the concept of loneliness is an universal human emotion which applies to almost anyone given that they’ve experienced the emotion before.
It is a fact that when a person is lonely they can go to extreme depths to alleviate their loneliness. This is demonstrated when Ann decides to spend the night with Steven even though she knows she is in a committed relationship with John. After sleeping with Steven, Ann wakes up and watches the shadows flicker against the wall. We then see stated within the story “Yet though it never reached her still she cowered, feeling that gathered there was all the frozen wilderness, its heart of terror and invincibility.” Ross uses very heavy diction within this line. When hearing the words “heart of terror” the thought of pure evil crosses our minds; by combining this pure evil with the word “invincible” one can assume that the feeling of loneliness felt by Ann was so great it shocked her to her very core. The word heart is almost always associated with positive connotations such as love, so when juxtaposed so closely with the word terror, the phrase “heart of terror”, symbolizes the fear Ann faces. This point of the story holds extreme irony. Initially, Ann was afraid of being alone. However, after she finds companionship, her fear of being alone is made even stronger, due to the fact that if John catches her, then Ann...