The Painted Door

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The Double Wheel Around the Moon Symbol Analysis

The Double Wheel Around the Moon Symbol Icon

The night before the story takes place, a “double wheel” appeared around the moon. This double wheel (which is usually caused by ice crystals high in the atmosphere) is taken by all of the characters to represent a coming storm. The “storm” it predicts, then, is not only the actual blizzard, but also the dramatic events in the story which end in John’s death and the destruction of a marriage. Ann at first tries to use the double wheel to convince John that it is too dangerous to leave the house, then to convince herself that he won’t come home. At the end of the story, the neighbors are surprised that John left the house even though he saw the double wheel. John’s disregard for the double wheel is representative of his blindness to the problems in his marriage, but also his dogged devotion to Ann. Likewise, Ann’s obsessive desire to believe that John will pay attention to the double wheel represents her inability to recognize the extent of the disconnect between her and her husband.

The Double Wheel Around the Moon Quotes in The Painted Door

The The Painted Door quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Double Wheel Around the Moon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dell Books edition of The Painted Door published in 1980.
The Painted Door Quotes

“He was south of here,” they said wonderingly when she told them how he had come across the hills. “Straight south—you’d wonder how he could have missed the buildings. It was the wind last night, coming every way at once. He shouldn’t have tried. There was a double wheel around the moon.”
She looked past them a moment, then as if to herself said simply, “If you knew him, though—John would try.”

Related Characters: Ann (speaker), John, The Neighbors
Related Symbols: The Double Wheel Around the Moon
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

Up until this point at the very end of the story, Ann has portrayed herself and John as in opposition to or disconnection from each other. Although they love each other, their individual perspectives and desires have driven them apart. After his death, however, Ann is able to acknowledge the depth of their connection. The neighbors, like Ann early on in the story, mention that the double wheel around the moon would have warned any reasonable person that a horrific storm was on its way. Although she had previously denied it, here Ann admits that she knew John would never let anything prevent him from reaching his loved ones. We see that she and John knew each other better than anyone else knew them, and that although she has just slept with Steven and is surrounded by the neighbors, Ann is more isolated than ever before.


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The Double Wheel Around the Moon Symbol Timeline in The Painted Door

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Double Wheel Around the Moon appears in The Painted Door. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Painted Door
Loyalty and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Isolation vs. Connection Theme Icon
...want to be left alone in the storm. She mentions that they both saw the double wheel around the moon the night before, which means that the storm will probably be a bad one. John... (full context)