Comparing of The Lamp At Noon and The Painted Door by Sinclair Ross
An author once wrote “Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions, beneath our religion or lack of it. We are all vulnerable both to the storm without and the storm within” (Buechner). The two short stories written by Sinclair Ross, The Lamp At Noon and The Painted Door, are both set in during the Great Depression. House wife Ellen, her husband Paul, and their baby boy live together on an isolated farm that is being swept away due to wind storms in short story The Lamp At Noon. While in The Painted Door, Ann and her husband Paul are living on a farmstead with snow storms creating white out situations making their roads impassable during the winter months. Both short stories by Sinclair Ross are comparable in which the husbands are suffering outside in harsh storm conditions while their housewives are trapped indoors battling storm-like conditions within.
In “The Lamp At Noon,” Paul expresses to Ellen that they are experiencing the “worst wind yet” having to “light the lantern in the tool shed too” (Ross 2). Paul was always outside, working in the field, in the stables, and around the yard leaving Ellen alone in the house to tend to their baby boy. Ellen was unable to keep up with the cleaning from the dust that was being skewed around from the wind. Throughout “The Painted Door” John was headed out on a seventeen-mile trek, skirting around the hills, in the midst of a major snowstorm that Ann could not handle on her own. John left her “at the mercy of the storm” (Ross 4). With Ellen feeling like she lived on an “isolated acre” (Ross 1) and Ann having the notion that she lived in “a region strangely alien to life” (Ross 1) they both began to mentally deteriorate, with neither husband in sight. Both housewives began to despise their husbands for how frequently they were away from the house. Ellen admitted that she wanted to “break away and run” as she felt she could no longer relax (Ross 5). Ann dreamed of the day John and herself could “have something of life, not just a house and furniture” (Ross 2). As the short stories progressed the storms outside worsened for both Paul and John. As well as the storms that were brewing within Ellen and Ann. In “The Lamp At Noon”, Ellen hit her breaking point when she comprehends that she “wouldn’t mind the work or skimping if there was something to look forward to. It’s the hopelessness – going on – watching the land blow away” (Ross 4). Wishing nothing more but for Paul to leave the farm and go to her parents with her. Eventually this causes Ellen to snap and she decides to leave on her own, making it only a few miles from the farmyard. Paul found the baby and herself “crouched down against a drift of sand as if for shelter, her hair in matted strands around her neck and face” (Ross 8). The unnamed baby boy had been choked from dust in the air flying around. In “The Painted Door”, Ann hit her breaking point when she decided to have an affair with John. Ann felt “an air of appraisal as if nothing more than an understanding of the unfulfilled women that until this moment has lain within her brood and unadmitted, reproved out of consciousness by the insistence of an outgrown, routine fidelity” (Ross 5). John had walked back home through the abysmal snowstorm to see Ann but when he arrived, she was having an affair with him with one of their friends. He set back out into the storm and was found the next morning straight south of the farmstead frozen in the snow. Ann had to live with the knowledge that her affair is what sent John back out into the storm.
Sinclair Ross portrayed many comparable emotions throughout his short stories “The Lamp At Noon” and the “Painted Door”. While Paul and John were busy working through the storms outside ensuring everything would be taken off, Ellen and Ann were inside slowly starting to detach themselves from reality. The housewives allowed a storm to grow within themselves leading them blundered by not taking action over their feelings sooner.