Extending the Text

News Article

Write a news article based on the outcome of the story. Remember that news articles…

  • strive for factual, objective writing;
  • use denotation instead of connotation;
  • are organized in an inverted pyramid structure;
  • each have a lead paragraph that contains the most important details;
  • have headlines;
  • must be newsworthy (proximity, timeliness, novelty); and
  • incorporate quotations.

Post your news articles to your blog and share your articles with your group. Comment on others’ posts.




Choose ten words, phrases, or images from a favourite section of the story. Create your own free verse poem (no rhymes). (Your poem need not be specifically about the story.) Share your poem.




Formally debate the following resolution: BIRT no one is to blame for what happens at the end of the story.


Fatal Inquiry Report
Imagine you are an Alberta Judge (and the events in the story occur in Alberta) write a Fatal Inquiry Report into John’s death.

After an inquiry is complete, the presiding judge provides the Minister with a written report that:

  • identifies the deceased
  • outlines the date, time, place and circumstances of death
  • may recommend how to prevent similar incidents, but
  • cannot make any findings of legal responsibility

Exploring the Text

  1. Why is Ann dissatisfied with her married life and with John’s plans for the day? Do you think her complaints are valid? Why or why not?
  2. Why is Ann seduced by Steven? I he to blame for what happens? Why or why not? Do you think he will feel guilty?
  3. Why is it crucial to the story’s effect that the reader perceive events from Ann’s point of view?
  4. What do you think Ann will do with the rest of her life? She had planned to make amends to John, but now he’s not there. Will she be able to keep the farm? Will she involve Steven? Will she tell the townsfolk why John really died? Will she live with John’s father? Justify your answers with references to the story.
  5. In what ways is the reader prepared for the discovery of the smear of white paint at the end of the story? Give specific examples. Should Ann have been surprised? Why or why not?
  6. Of what importance is each of the following to this story?
    • the painted door
    • the double wheel around the moon
    • the ticking clock
    • the horse
    • the encroaching cold
  7. Why does John go back into the storm without speaking to Ann? DO you think he is right to do so? Why or why not?


“The Painted Door” by Sinclair Ross (Canada)

Read “The Painted Door” by Sinclair Ross.

Write an essay in which you develop your thesis from one of these topics:

  • man-woman conflict
  • the role of nature
  • fate and irony
  • the place of art and beauty
  • the possibility of redemption and atonement
  • the possibility of communication
  • the effects of loneliness on the self and on relationships


“The Painted Door” is partly an anatomy of a sin – and of a repentance that comes, tragically, scant hours too late. As the recorder of that sin, Ross is severe, portraying Ann as a woman just good enough to be fully culpable, in a way that the handsome but morally vacant Steven is not and cannot be. Indeed, the reader may ask whether the two crucial elements in Ann’s tragedy – her contrition and regained love for John, and John’s grief-stricken retreat back into the storm – are reasonable to be predicted given what we know of the characters, or are imposed on the story as part of Ross’s indictment of Ann as a woman unworthy of John.

But the story can also be seen as a portrayal of a seduction – or perhaps a series of rapes culminating in a barely noticed seduction. For Ann’s moral will is assaulted by the storm, and her nerves and mental balance are battered by isolation, long before Steven arrives to confront her with nothing more aggressive than clean-shaven jowls and an easy smile. In fact, during the hours of mounting sexual tension beside the stove, Ann seems to be seduced not so much by Steven as by her own overstrained, terrified, feverish imagination; the “act” is so understated, and Steven so passive throughout, that it is possible to miss that point that Ann and Steven have not just bundled together for warmth. Her storm-induced hallucinations, then, are powerful, even decisive agents in her seduction; but in the end it is Ann, not the elements, whom Ross taxes with kindness.

Other topics for discussion:

realism, surrealism vs classicism, romanticism

Apollonian and Dionysian Dichotomy

“Temptation of Eve”

Jeanne d’Arc

Wild Geese vs After the Harvest

Dream Interpretation

Sheryl Sandberg



Golden Age, Golden Mean, Golden Rule

Persistance of Memory