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The Painted Door

  • Date Submitted: 02/19/2013 12:06 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 59.2 
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In the story “The Painted Door” by Sinclair Ross, the protagonist Ann was isolated from human contact by the storm and the physical harshness of the land. The story described a day in Ann’s life in which she was forced to stay at home alone while her husband went to help at his father’s farm. Margret Atwood correctly stated in her book Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, the major theme in this short story was survival and isolation. However, in “The Painted Door”, Sinclair Ross suggested that human beings are not satisfied with basic survival; they tend to seek further excitement and luxury in their lives once their survival requirements are met. Ross achieved this through the use of diction to create tone and imagery to create conflict within Ann.
When considering this story, the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is relevant to the discussion. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be represented as a pyramid, where human beings need to satisfy their most basic requirements. However once the lower level is fulfilled, human beings move up to the next level. As Ann stated multiple times in the story, “Warm and safe – I’m a fool” (Ross pg. 2). This statement informed the readers that the basic two levels of survival, physiological and safety, have been met. The next level on the Maslow’s hierarchy was love and belonging. Throughout this story, Ann tried to achieve this level of needs.

Figure #1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Very early on in the story, Ross established Ann’s need for love and belonging, “It isn’t right to leave me here alone. Surely I’m as important as your father” (pg. 1). Thus the tone was set from the beginning that Ann was longing for something more than what she currently had. Ross added to this tone of unease and expectation with words such as “pacing”, “brooding” and “motionless” repeated multiple times in the story when Ann did not have a purpose. There was a definitive change in diction and tone when Ann faced the prospect of...


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