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In everyday life, many ordinary people have very difficult decisions to make that will shape their life. For example, Ann from “The Painted Door” is shown as a protagonist because of the way her character is, she is very lonely, depressed and sad and what she does because of these feelings affects her life tremendously. Paul, from “Lamp at Noon”, is also shown as the protagonist because he is doing his best to support his family and make a living for them, but gets no appreciation for it. The protagonists, antagonists and secondary characters shape the story and each character influences the story in a tremendous way. The two stories illustrate similarities in character to show that loneliness can have a huge impact on life and promote bad choices.
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In the story “The Painted Door” Ann is recognized as the protagonist. She is partially to blame for many of the tragic things that happen in the story, such as her depression, her secret affair with Stephen and John’s death. The way Ann decides to do things has a big impact on the outcome of the story, Moore reinforces this idea when she explains that “Although John does not pay much attention to Ann, it is Ann’s fault because she never tells John that she would rather he spent more time with her than working. She also drives John to commit suicide because she “sleeps” with Steven, making John think that she doesn’t love him anymore.” (Moore) Ann is a very lonely and unhappy woman, which may be because she hides her true feelings from John. Ann has a very hard time staying home alone when John leaves for the night. She does many things to try and keep her mind occupied. However, because she is so lonely and Stephen, a neighbour and friend of Johns, comes over to play cards with her, she messes up and does things she regrets later. The actions she decided to portray when she got sad and lonely affected her relationship with her husband showing to him that she doesn’t love him.
In society, the way people act and communicate affects the way others think of them. Paul from “The Lamp at Noon” does everything he can such as working on him farm to get food and money to support his family. Paul is considered a protagonist because of his commitment to his family and his dedication to his work. Ellen does not realize that he is only doing it to support his family, she gets upset and wants to move somewhere without dust storms, somewhere that she thinks will allow her to buy pretty things ” ‘As much as in town, growing up a pauper. You’re the one who wants to go; it’s not for his sake. You think that in town you’d have a better time -not so much work- more clothes-‘ ‘Maybe’ she dropped her head defencelessly” (Ross 3) Paul does not believe in living with another family and getting ‘charity’ from them, he is independent and trusts he can manage their family very well on his own “I can’t go Ellen. Living off people -charity- stop and think of it. This is where I belong. I can’t do anything else.” (Ross 3) Paul expressing his feelings this way to Ellen makes her very upset, but shows that he is not afraid to convey how he feels.
Ellen, from “Lamp at Noon” is also a lonely housewife. Ellen is considered the antagonist in this story because all she cares about is moving away and wanting a better life. She is the type of person who when she wants something argues until she gets it or just leaves and does it herself. She expresses how she feels about their living conditions to her husband Paul, but she doesn’t convey the feelings she has towards Paul himself. The weather emulates the emotions of Ellen, the authority of wind and dust seem to taunt Ellen and Paul into desperation. She wants to show him love and affection but when she sees him she feels she needs to be upfront about what needs to happen, “She wanted to go to him, to feel his arms supporting her, to cry a little just that he might soothe her, but because of his presence made the menace of the wind seem less, she gripped herself and thought, I’m in the right. I won’t give in. For his sake, too, I won’t.” (Ross 2) She hopes by doing this he will see that they need to move out of the town they are currently living in due to the never ending sandstorm that is putting all of their family in danger.
From the short story, “The Painted Door”, Stephen is looked upon as the antagonist. Unlike Ellen in “Lamp at Noon”, Stephen is not striving for love or attention, he just goes along for the ride. Stephen is very laid back and doesn’t really have a plan for his life. Ann is attracted to Stephen’s sense of newness and fun. Stephen goes to visit Ann and ends up sleeping with her. He doesn’t feel any guilt or remorse after and just thinks of it as another night, “For comfort she let her hand rest on Stephens shoulder. It would be easier were he awake now, with her, sharing her guilt; but gradually as she watched his handsome face in the glimmering light she came to understand that for him no guilt existed.”(Ross 8) This shows him as a selfish, arrogant, naive person. At the end, when John dies, Ann realizes the type of person Stephen is, he will not help her with the farm or look after her he will be gone tomorrow and she will be alone forever.
John’s character is for the most part described as a dull, ironically simple man. He is looked at as a secondary character in this story because he shows that he loves Ann by working and taking care of the money and needs of their family, “To him, it seemed only right that she should have the clothes-openly right that he, fit for nothing else, should slave away fifteen hours a day to give them to her.” (Ross 3) One thing John lacks that upsets Ann is he isn’t a very affectionate person and does not communicate well with her. Before John sets out to visit his father, he talks to Ann, promising to come back, “You ought to know by now I wouldn’t stay away.” (Ross 2) John is very happy in what he does and very content with tending to his farm. He believes that he can easily make the people in his life, especially his wife Ann, happy by keeping on top of his work and ‘bringing home the bacon.’
Throughout the course of the short story “Lamp at Noon” the main secondary character would be Ellen and Paul’s baby boy. This child impacts the story a tremendous amount. Ellen is always looking after him and complaining to Paul that if they don’t move the baby is going to die. She uses him as an excuse as to why they need to move and how all the dust in the air from the sandstorm is causing them both to cough constantly. In the end when Ellen takes the baby and leaves the house, it is clear that it wasn’t entirely the baby she cared about it was also about her future. It is recognized that the baby has died when Ellen says “I’ll take him again. Such clumsy hands- you don’t know how to hold a baby yet. See how his head falls forward on your arm.” (Ross 8) This shows that all the arguing from Paul and Ellen did nothing and ended up killing their child. If Ellen would have been patient, the baby would have lived.
The short stories, “The Painted Door” and “Lamp at Noon” have many things in common, in both stories the lonely depressed housewives try to do something to make their lives more exciting and end up losing someone they love, Ann in “Painted Door” loses her husband to her selfishness, and Ellen in “Lamp at Noon” loses her baby because of her desire to move to the city away from the desert like area they are currently living in. Both wives’s realize in the end they should have thought about what they were doing before they did it, and realized they had to suffer the consequences. The similarities of character in the two stories show how loneliness and depression can have quite an effect on life and encourage bad choices.
Works Sited Page
Bookrags Staff “Summary of the Lamp at Noon:” 2000.
February 19, 2010.
Unknown author “Characters in the painted door”
February 19, 2010
CBC news “Great Canadian Authors”
February 20, 2010
Greta Moore “The Painted Door Summary”
February 20, 2010
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