The Bath

by

Janet Frame

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John (Husband) Character Analysis

The woman’s late husband appears in the story only as a memory; he died 17 years before the start of the story, leaving the woman to take care of herself in her old age. He is buried in the cemetery across town, where she frequently visits him, bringing flowers with which to decorate his grave. Near the end of the story, it is revealed that he was poor compared to the woman’s parents, who are buried in the same cemetery. Their spacious grave and elaborate tombstone make his seem small and simple by comparison. The widow decorates his grave with flowers but does not decorate theirs, implying that she feels the need to compensate for the simplicity of her husband’s grave.

John (Husband) Quotes in The Bath

The The Bath quotes below are all either spoken by John (Husband) or refer to John (Husband). 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:
Loneliness and Death Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Cambridge University Press edition of The Bath published in 2018.
The Bath Quotes

Loneliness welled in her. If John were here, she thought, if we were sharing our old age, helping each other, this would never have happened.

Related Characters: The Woman, John (Husband)
Related Symbols: The Bathtub
Page Number: 320
Explanation and Analysis:

Then she ran the sparkling ice-cold water into the jars and balancing them carefully one in each hand she walked back to the grave where she shook the daffodils, anemones, red leaves from their waxed paper and dividing them put half in one jar, half in the other.

Related Characters: The Woman, John (Husband)
Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:

She waited, trying to capture the image of peace. She saw only her husband’s grave, made narrower, the spring garden whittled to a thin strip; then it vanished and she was left with the image of the bathroom, of the narrow confining bath grass-yellow as old baths are, not frost-white, waiting, waiting, for one moment of inattention, weakness, pain, to claim her for ever.

Related Characters: The Woman, John (Husband)
Related Symbols: The Bathtub
Page Number: 322
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Bath LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Bath PDF

John (Husband) Character Timeline in The Bath

The timeline below shows where the character John (Husband) appears in The Bath. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Bath
Loneliness and Death Theme Icon
Struggle and Old Age Theme Icon
A woman brings home cut flowers, since tomorrow is the seventeenth anniversary of her husband’s death. She visits his grave on that day each year to weed it and decorate... (full context)
Loneliness and Death Theme Icon
Struggle and Old Age Theme Icon
...of breath, she shouts for help, but of course, nobody hears. She’s desperately lonely—if her husband were still alive, he would have helped her. After trying and failing again to get... (full context)
Struggle and Old Age Theme Icon
...her coat. But today it’s peaceful and nice. The woman weeds the garden at her husband’s grave then cleans out the jars for holding the cut flowers she brought. Standing back,... (full context)
Struggle and Old Age Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Social Class Theme Icon
...is thankful that her parents were able to have such a comfortable grave, unlike her husband, who was cremated. His grave has only room for a tombstone. The woman’s parents’ grave... (full context)
Loneliness and Death Theme Icon
Struggle and Old Age Theme Icon
Life, Death, and Social Class Theme Icon
...closes her eyes to remember the peace of the cemetery: the bright flowers on her husband’s grave, and her parents’ grave with so much room they could roll over if they... (full context)